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Intersection of Life and Faith

Go Online Together at Home

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2002 11 Jul
Go Online Together at Home
The Internet brings the world into your home. That can either be a blessing or a burden. If you manage your family's online experiences well, using the Internet can be safe and fun for everyone in your household.

Here are some ways you can effectively manage Internet use at home:

  • Make sure that each person in your household knows how to use the Internet. Help each other out so that everyone is confident when going online.

  • Create a written agreement that spells out the details of what constitutes acceptable Internet use for your family. Parents should include information about when children can go online, for how long, what sites they can and can't visit, how they should interact with others while online (such as through e-mail and chat rooms), what information they can give out online, how they should use the Internet while not at home (such as at a library or friend's house), what consequences will occur if the agreement is violated, etc.

  • Talk regularly about each other's online experiences. If you find an interesting site, share the URL with others in your family and tell them what you thought of it. Ask your family members what search engine they like best, and why. Recommend a chat room to someone in your family who might enjoy it.

  • Subscribe to an Internet Service Provider that offers filtering, and use blocking and/or monitoring software to provide a second layer of protection against Web sites that you don't want to allow into your home.

  • Place all computers in the house in open areas that any family member can easily access while others are using them. Prohibit children from going online when parents are in bed or not at home.

  • Regularly check your children's "History" folder online, to see the constantly updated listing of Web sites they've recently visited. If the folder is empty, the contents have been deleted, and you should talk to your children about it.

  • Go online together as much as possible to pursue fun activities. Consider such activities as: producing a family e-mail newsletter, holding an online family reunion, creating an online photo album, sending an electronic greeting card, planning a day trip, taking a virtual tour of a faraway place, and playing online games.

Adapted from Going Online @ Home: How to Make the Internet a Family Activity, copyright 2000 by Ken Reaves. Published by Broadman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, Tn.,, 1-800-448-8032.

Ken Reaves is a freelance writer and also publisher to a regular electronic newsletter, Internet for Families Ezine. He regularly leads seminars on the topic of this book. Ken pastors the First Baptist Church of Clewiston, Fl., where he lives with his wife and two children.

What does your family enjoy doing together online? What rules have you established for safe Internet use in your household, and why? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.