Establish Internet safety rules for your kids

Francine Ward's tips on Internet safety for your kids:

  1. Internet Family Policy - Have a family/house policy on Internet about social media use. Understanding the appropriate way to behave is as important to running a household, as it is in running a business. Have a family meeting and develop an Internet and social media policy. Sit down with your kids and let them know what you expect regarding their use of social media in the home. If your family doesn't have an Internet policy set up, it's something to think about implementing to keep them safe on the Internet. Things to think about when you enact a house policy: what will go into the house Internet policy? How will you communicate the policy you set forth? Do you enforce it-fairly with your kids?

  2. Code of Conduct - Teach your kids the right way to use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Give them examples of right and wrong ways of using the Internet, and how their choices will affect them and others. 29 Students in London found out the hard way after they were suspended for creating a Facebook "Hate" page about their teacher. They were suspended and the teacher had to receive extensive counseling. Hate is not a game to play in life or on the Internet. (Recently another student in the US was suspended and now the parents want to sue the school!)

  3. Consequences for Internet Cyber-Bullies - Internet, cell phones or other electronic devices used for deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, intended to harm others, can land you in court! Posting personal or private information that can harm an individual could land you in jail. ABC did a study that concluded that 42% of kids have been bullied while online. One in four has had it happen more than once. Don't let your child get bullied or bully any other child. Address any cyber bullying right away!

  4. Understand that delete does NOT equal delete. Have you ever written something down and then erased it? Or written something in your computer and then deleted it? And you knew it was deleted because it was gone. Right? Not true with the Internet. Once you input something into the Internet, it is indelibly written. That includes photos, words, stories, and any other information about you. There has been a recent rash of teen girls uploading nude and provocative photos of themselves into Myspace and Facebook. Not only is it in bad taste, it can interfere with your kids getting into a top school, or hurt their chances of getting a future job.
To help you get started, here is a checklist for creating an effective social media use family policy:

In order for your social media use family policy to be enforceable, make sure you take into account the following:

  1. Define what you mean by social media. Are you including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, YouTube, as well as other social networking venues? It's best to broadly define what types of social media are included.

  2. Describe your expectations under the policy. In detail, describe the Do's and Don'ts, and why not provide a number of examples of what adhering to the policy looks like.

  3. Are there exceptions to the policy? Are there situations when you won't enforce the policy? Explain a few, but leave it to your discretion to make changes.

  4. When does the policy take affect? Are there certain times of day?

  5. Who must adhere to the policy? Is it everyone? The kids? Only kids over 13? Over 17? Does everyone have to abide by the policy?

  6. Under what conditions would you excuse adherence to the policy?

  7. What happens if the policy is breached, not excused? Are there consequences? If so, what are they?

  8. Who is the enforcer of the policy? Is it majority rules? Mom rules? Dad rules? Mom & dad must be in alignment? Do the kids have a say?

  9. Will changes be discussed by entire family?
About Francine Ward:
A 1989 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Francine Denise Ward earned her undergraduate degree in 1986 from the City University of New York---Hunter College. Admitted to practice in both California and New York, her IP focus is on copyrights, trademarks, internet, and publishing law. Ms. Ward has carved out a niche working with eCommerce entrepreneurs, information marketers, authors, and professional speakers. Not surprisingly, Francine loves working with entrepreneurs and authors--because she is one! She understands from firsthand experience the importance of safeguarding what she's invested so much time and money creating, e.g, books, articles, web content, product, videos, her brand and the right to create these things. She's written two self-help books (Esteemable Acts: 10 Actions for Building Real Self-Esteem and 52 Weeks of Esteemable Acts: A Guide to Right Living), has given a number of motivational business keynotes, and has talked extensively to entrepreneurs on the importance of protecting their valuable intellectual property. She has now expanded her reach to social media, including the Second Life.

Francine Ward is an active member of the American Bar Association's Intellectual Property Law Section, and currently chairs Committee 408 (In the Interest of Individuals and Small Businesses). Always willing to be of service and forever involved in her community, Francine volunteers her time helping women struggling with addiction who have lost their kids, she's on the boards of the National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drugs in the Bay Area and the National Speakers Association, and is a probono volunteer lawyer through the VLSP program with the San Francisco Bar Association. Francine D. Ward resides in Mill Valley, CA with her husband Richard Lipfield, and three cats, Mango, Spike, and Kiwi.

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