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notre dame montreal

Parents, Families and the Internet

The Internet is just like all of God's gifts to us, it can be used for great good, but we need to be aware that it can also be used inappropriately. There are websites which are unhelpful and some can be positively harmful. It is wise therefore to judge what is appropriate for your child, and to take the sensible steps which can help to protect your family.

Being a responsible parent in the virtual world is just the same as parenting in the real world. You already protect your children and watch where they go outside the home, you advise them not to talk to strangers, especially if you're not around. And you try to keep an eye on what they are doing, who they are with and how they spend their time. It is just the same when they use the computer on the internet!

Here are some guidelines which you may find helpful:

  1. Teach yourself about the Web and enjoy surfing the internet with your child. 
    Show them by example how wonderful it can be as a tool to help with homework or gather information. This can be fun and a valuable time spent together with your child.
  2. Learn about the computer and its operating system, especially how to use the
    history folder of the computer to find out which sites your child visits.
  3. Place your family computer in the most public area of your home - the living
    room, kitchen, or wherever it's easiest for you to monitor their computer
    use and activities. 
  4. Familiarize yourself with parental control software, you can buy these from most good computer stores. Some service providers have their own programs to
    allow you to filter specific sites, a group of sites that the software deems inappropriate, or sites with inappropriate keywords in them. Many families find that adding blocking and filtering programs to their regular supervision gives them additional peace of mind. 
  5. Be aware that filter programs may not act on the contents of emails. If your child has their own email account, use an email service which provides filtering options.
  6. For younger children it might be useful to guide them to use protected areas. Having a filter program is not a substitute for supervising your child's online activities.
  7. Discuss with your children the dangers involved and ask them to agree a 'family covenant' which observes certain rules. This is an opportunity for them to understand the issues involved and to recognise that you are looking after their interests. It might include an agreement of when the computer can be used and who must be in the home at the time. They are much more likely to work with you if they understand you are not just spoiling their fun!
  8. Be careful of 'chatrooms', places where children meet with others online. Many older individuals pretend to be younger to make friends with children. Do not allow your children to be put at risk in this way. Especially, warn them against giving their address, phone number or school name to anyone they 'meet' in a chat room; and never, never to arrange to meet anyone whom they only know through the Internet.

If you don't yet have a PC at home, and you want to find out the possibilities and pitfalls of the Internet, try your local Library. Many libraries now offer Internet access for free.