HowTo Train Your Child to use the Internet Safely

9 year old driving 64 Ford FairlaneI began driving without direct adult supervision when I was age nine (9). I chauffeured my little sister (age 2) and my dog Duke all over our family’s 26 acre hog farm. I was not allowed to leave the farm and venture onto the country road that we lived on, but I could drive all over the farm as long as my parents were home and I asked permission before firing up the old baby-blue 1964 Ford Fairlane. As long as I drove safe and stayed within my boundaries, I was allowed to drive the Fairlane from time-to-time.

My guess is that most rural kids learned to drive in much the same way.  You probably started learning to operate the pedals, steering wheel, and shifter in a pasture, on a quiet country road, or in a giant abandoned parking lot.  Your parent or grandparent was right there at your side providing instructions, sometimes to the point of annoying you.  You trusted their advice because you had been witnessing their safe operation of this vehicle or others first-hand for nearly a decade or more.

After a while you arrived at the age of 15 and got your “Learners Permit” by taking a written examination.  You could only drive on the street during the day with a licensed adult driver in the front seat of the car with you. Then at age 16 you were eligible to take the practical driving test. This test consisted of driving around for about an hour with some stranger who made you perform like a circus animal. For the grand finale you demonstrated your parallel parking skills.

If all went well you were given a brand new a shiny red corvette convertible with no restrictions and a gas card with an unlimited balance.  Okay, maybe not.  Instead there were still restrictions and boundaries set on when you could take mom’s station wagon, where you were allowed to go, and when you had to be home. Violate any or all of the above and you might not have drove again for as long as you lived with your parents.

Safe Driving on the Internet

Training your child to use the Internet should be approached in much the same way that we were taught to drive a car:

  1. Demonstrate safe and responsible use of technology
  2. Start young and allow them to sit on your lap and operate the controls
  3. Start slow in a safe place when you do give them the controls
  4. Sit at their side and offer advice for a while
  5. Monitor their use of the technology
  6. Always maintain and communicate boundaries in your home
  7. Don’t be afraid to restrict access when the technology is misused

It is that simple. But don’t forget the Basics of Internet Safety involves much more than teaching the skills. A trusting relationship between you and your child will make it much easier for them to receive instruction and operate within your boundaries.   The basics will also set the stage for them to return to you when they are faced with something that they don’t understand or feel comfortable with while using technology.

About Hank Osborne

I encourage dads to rise above mediocrity in marriage and parenting. I write and speak on technology, biblical parenting principles, education, and parenting medically special needs kids. My wife Sherry and I co-host the Home School Support Network.

  • Larry Collette

    There isn’t much more I can add to this, but as a parent to teenagers. They think they are clever circumventing any of my security and safety requirements. The important thing is monitoring. I know that not every home has a built-in computer expert, but I have made my teenagers use Ubuntu Linux. They don’t have the ability to install programs as easily as Windows. All they need to use it for is school work and research. Anything else above and beyond will require our approval and all logins and passwords belong to us. We’ve discovered that the majority of their internet usage is facebook for communication and youtube for instant entertainment. If they attempt to violate any of my security or safety requirements, it doesn’t hurt my feeling to “take away the keys.” Surfing the internet is like driving, it is a privilege, not a right. I always tell them, “when they get their own job, buy their own internet and computer, they can surf how ever they please.”

  • Anonymous

    as far as i know the parents should teach them and show them a good example.

  • Okienomics

    Google images is horrendous. I put control settings on google, but still they allow inappropriate images to seep through even innocent sounding searches.