POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 135 A family Internet agreement is a set of guidelines or rules for home Internet use. An online agreement should offer your kids very clear guidelines on the following: • where they can go and what they can do online • how much time they can spend on the Internet • what to do if something happens that makes them feel uncomfortable • how they can protect their personal information • how to stay safe in interactive environments • how to behave ethically and responsibly online The key to an effective agreement is to create it with your family's input. You'll need to do some research before you get started: • If they're already using the Internet, ask your kids what activities they like to do online? Do they enter contests or fill out surveys or quizzes? Do they download music files, games or software? Do they like chatting with people through chat or instant messaging? • Sit with them and ask them to show you where they go and what they do online. Check out their favourite Web sites, visit chat rooms they've used, look at their instant messaging contact lists. • Learn how they find their way around the Internet. Do they rely on hyperlinks (links to other sites), or do they use search engines? If so, which ones? Ask them why they prefer one over the other, and how they formulate their searches. Now you can create a family online agreement based on your children's online interests and activities. Keep your agreement by the family computer as a reminder. Review it regularly and update it as your children grow older. Sample Family Online Agreements Joy and Stephen Smith have three children: Holly is 7, David is 9 and Justine is 14. Holly loves anything that has to do with space, and David thinks dinosaurs are really cool. The are no museums in the Smiths' small town, so Holly and David like to go to places on the Internet where they can learn more about their interests. Holly's favourite Web site is the Canadian Space Agency's KidSpace. David searches all over the Web for great dinosaur stuff, like newsgroups, Web sites and games. Justine uses the Internet for homework and chatting with friends. Joy and Stephen both work full time, so they sat down with their kids to determine a family online agreement that the baby-sitter, Marjory, can refer to when they're not around. They've also made a separate agreement for their teenager. Holly and David's Online Agreement • Either Mom or Dad or Marjory has to be with us when we go on the Internet. • We are allowed on the Web for one hour on school nights, only after we've done our homework and cleaned up the supper table. Holly gets to do the surfing Mondays and Wednesdays, and David gets to do the surfing Tuesdays and Thursdays. • We will only use Berit's Best Sites for Children or Yahooligans! to find Web sites. • When searching for information online we will use these filtered search engines: Ask Jeeves for Kids or KidsClick! • We will not give out any personal information online without Mom or Dad's permission. • Only Mom or Dad can download our e-mail. They will tell us if we have any new mail in the family mailbox. Creating a Family Internet Agreement (continued...)