Why you should have your Kids Online Passwords

If you wouldn’t let your child go to a stranger’s home unchaperoned, you shouldn’t let them go to a stranger’s website (or a friend’s) unchaperoned.  As a parent, we have the responsibility to keep our kids safe and to gradually teach them how to keep themselves safe when they leave the nest.

The child or teen:  “Mom might be looking!”

Knowing that parents have the password to all a child or teen’s accounts will help them stay out of trouble.  They will think twice before making that lewd comment, using profanity or friending that stranger.  They know that a parent can log in and check things out at any time, and it puts some restraints on their behavior.  It’s also a good idea to make sure they are only on the computer in front of other people.  Even though everyone seems to have their own computer, in their own room, these days, this is a recipe for disaster.

The potential purp:  “This one is protected!”

Not only should you have all passwords, you should check things out on a periodic basis.  Don’t do it at the same time every time or the kids will get wise, but make sure they know there will be surprise drop-ins.  The word will get out that this child is protected by parents who care enough to keep track of their child’s activities.  This will discourage various kinds of behavior from friends.  It will also send those who would target your child the message that this child is off limits.

The unwise parents:  “At least they are at home!”

For some reason, we all have a false sense of security when it comes to the web.  Maybe it’s that we sit in our own homes, so we think we are protected.  We think our children are protected.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In today’s society, children and teens often have their own computer, in their room, and little to no limits on where they go and who they interact with. 

One only has to read or watch the news to find horror stories a plenty about kids lured to meet someone they thought was someone else, kids being bullied online, and so much more.  Your child could be the exception, but why take that chance?  A little vigilance can help make sure your child doesn’t become one of those statistics.

The wise parents:  “No passwords, no computer!”

The wise parents recognize that computing is a privilege, not a right.  They make sure the child knows that just as they would not allow the child run in the street or play with fire, they will not leave their child to the mercies of strangers (or friends) on the internet.  Too many parents abdicate responsibility for discipline and training of their children because they are too busy, too trusting, or just don’t want to be bothered.

The wise parents will recognize this and set limits on their children’s computer activities and times.  They will let the child know that a privilege is something that is earned when the child shows himself responsible.  The smart parents will know exactly what’s going on when their child logs in, even if their child is super responsible.  Things happen, and part of a parent’s job is to monitor a child’s behavior even, as they teach them safe behaviors. 

Children and teens always want more than they have, that’s the way they seek independence.  A parent has to give them age-appropriate freedom while still keeping the guardrails of accountability in place.  Children may whine or throw fits, but in the end, they will appreciate those guardrails because they show that the child is loved and give her a sense of security.