Letting your family help set the rules for Internet usage is a good idea. No matter how young or old your children are they will like have their own say in the house rules. There are many ways to get the family together to talk about it. Find a time that works well for everyone included and stick to the plans.
Before you have your family discussion of the house rules for Internet usage, you will want everyone to have some ideas. Let the older kids write down what they think the rules should be. For the younger kids they can make pictures of the rules they think about and still discuss why. You can also add these rules for the house if they are a good fit for your family. This gives all the kids good practice for discussions and letting their own opinions be known. Make sure everyone has time to say what they want and why. This will help them feel like their opinions are valued.
You and your spouse will also have to have your own list of rules that you think are important. At the family discussion you should listen to the opinions of your kids. Your kids may even come up with rules that you may not have thought about. You as the adult still have final say, but listening to your kids and what they think is important will help when the rules are set in place.
Some rules to think about for you and your family members would include safety measures, time limits or times when to play, and whether you will need to make contracts. Since your family is all together you should also discuss what happens when the rules are not obeyed. Let the kids come up with ideas for the punishments also. The more your kids feel involved in the process the more likely they are to follow the rules.
The most important rules you can think about are the safety measures. The safety rules will be made to help keep everyone safe and the computer free from viruses. All kids should know never to give out their personal information on any website. This would include full names, ages, and full addresses. It is best to always go by a username that is not related to their real names. Go over these rules for the kids and explain why they are important. These should be rules that are enforced no matter what.
While discussing the rules you should talk about time limits or set times for everyone on the Internet. Time limits are a good idea for bigger families. This allows everyone to get their time to be on the Internet. Set times would allow for a certain time each day for a child to be on the computer. Set times helps you in monitoring the kids and being there if they need help. Have the kids think of either the time limits they should have or the time of day that will work out best for them.
You can all make a decision of having a contract to sign saying that the user will abide by all rules. It may work for some families and other families may not like it. The reasons to have a contract would be so that the user is fully aware of what the rules are and has signed a paper saying they know. Reasons to not have a contract would be if you feel that is showing you don’t trust your kids. You will need to think of what works best for your family. What works now may not work later.
After you have the family meeting on the house rules for the Internet you may want to write the rules down and post them by the computer that has Internet access. This allows the rules to be seen and followed. You may need to change the rules from time to time but the basic safety rules should always be followed. Letting your family help in setting the house rules for Internet usage is really a good idea.