Tips for parents of tweens going online

We talked to Rebecca Levey, co-founder of the recently launched KidzVuz.com, and Danah Boyd, assistant professor in media, culture, and communication at New York University, about how to keep an eye on your kids’ online habits.

Here are their tips:

1) Rebecca says:

Having the kitchen table be where the computer is is a huge thing for kids this age. Don’t let your kids be isolated in their room at a young age on the computer. You know, have it out in the open.

2) Don’t just set your kids up with the computer and assume that as “digital natives, ” they’ll figure it out. Rebecca says:

I hate the term digital native. I hate when people use that for our children. I think that implies a fluency and a knowledge of the digital world that they don’t possess. Our kids are learning as they are going. You wouldn’t hand your kid the keys to the car at 16 without any driver’s ed. Basically people put their kids on the computer and say “have at it” and leave the room.

3) Being online with them isn’t just looking over their shoulder. Danah says make your kids think about who is interacting with them by asking “How do you know who you are talking to?” It’s hard and, frankly, awkward but necessary.

4) Kids are getting online earlier and earlier as their parents hand them iPods, iPads, and smart phones. So you might start with your kid online earlier than you think. Rebecca says 7 is a good age. Hang out with them on sites like Club Penguin, Webkinz, Neopets, New Moon Girls and her own kidzvuz.

5) Even if your kids are thriving online, don’t leave them with computer as a babysitter. Unlike the TV, it only takes a few clicks for them to somewhere you don’t want them to be.

–Steph Curtis, social media host