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Developing an Online Agreement With Your Child   

An 'Online agreement' is a contract or a set of rules or guidelines that govern home Internet use. When developing an online agreement, there are many variables to keep in mind. Also, you may want to sit down with your child and develop an online agreement that you can all live by. The more you can keep them involved, the better.

Staying involved also means work on your end. When deciding on what to include in an online agreement, it helps to do some research on your child's Internet activities. Ask them to show you the sites they visit, the browsers they use to access information, and the people that they talk to online. Review their 'friends' lists or e-mail or contact lists, so that you know who they are talking to/communicating with.

Take a look at their online profile. If they haven't created one already, help them make one.

Review with your child what exactly constitutes 'personal information.'

Make sure that you and your child both are aware of spammers, spyware, and viruses. If you're not familiar with them, learn more about them! A great place to start is Google's reference database for Internet Viruses.

Make sure that your children know that if anything is ever unclear to them, they should ask a parent or teacher first.

Also, remember that once an online agreement is written and signed, it is JUST AS IMPORTANT to stay involved and informed. With over 8 Billion web pages available to the surfer, the Internet is a place that is growing and changing every day.

Below is a sample agreement that you may find handy when creating your own family 'online agreement.' You can also cut and paste the text into your own agreement document or print it out directly from this page.

The Online Agreement 
I want to use the Internet. I am a smart and safe Internet Surfer, and I know there are certain rules I should follow and precautions I should take when online. I agree to follow these rules, and my parents agree to help me follow these rules.

1. I will never give my personal information (or anyone else's) out to anyone on the Internet without getting approval from my parents first. This includes not sending photographs.

2. I will tell a parent immediately if I see anything on the Internet that is threatening, scary, or something I know I'm not supposed to see.

3. I will never tell anyone my password (even best friends) except for my parent(s).

4. I will never call or meet anyone in person that I've met online unless a parent approves and agrees to go with me.

5. I will never open e-mails from people I don't know, and I will never click on links unless I know where they came from and that the site they take me to is safe.

6. I will teach my parents about the Internet, and let them know exactly what I am doing when I am online.

7. I will never buy anything or sign up for anything unless a parent is with me and approves it.

8. I understand that many people online are not who they say they are. Many adults are online pretending to be kids. I will always tell my parents about people I meet online.

9. I will talk with my parents and help set up our own online rules. We will decide upon when and how long I can be online, and the areas and sites I am allowed to visit. I will not go to other areas or sites without their permission.

10. (Parent) I agree to help my child/teen follow these rules, and I agree to allow reasonable use of the Internet as long as these rules and other family rules are followed.

Signed (Student) _____________________________________

Signed (Parent) _______________________________________

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