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Does Your Teen Have a Laptop? What Are Your Rules?

By June 27, 2008

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When teens have a laptop in the house, it doesn’t mean the general rules of a computer should just go out the window. This article gave an example of a teen boy who had a laptop and brought it to his room to use. His parents didn’t have rules regarding the laptop, because it belonged to the teen and ‘it was hard to control’. Well, I’ve got my parenting manual out. As I flip through the pages, I don’t see the word easy used anywhere. We don’t set rules and limits because things are easy to control, we set them to make things easier.

The article goes on to list the big scary things that can – and do – happen to kids online. Cyberbullying, sending naked pictures and talking to people they don’t know are big problems and need to be addressed. But what about the simple everyday problems that having a laptop without any limits can cause? Lack of sleep, not getting homework done and not going out to be active with friends are also problems that need to be addressed. Setting the rules and limits, being clear with your expectations and being fair and firm with your discipline is what makes potential problems like laptops easier to deal with regarding your teen.

I’ve published a parenting contract for laptop use. I hope it helps those who wish to set clear rules and limits with their teens who use laptops.

Asking the community: Do you feel these laptop issues are a part of a bigger problem with teens on the internet? If your teen has a laptop, how have you addressed these issues?

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April 23, 2008 at 10:37 am
(1) ctrmomma says:

We have a “Computers in open, well-travelled areas” (i.e. front room in our house) policy and laptops are no different. (My computer is there too.) It’s a non-issue in our home. It doesn’t matter who buys, who owns, etc. Rules are the same.

April 23, 2008 at 1:09 pm
(2) Lisa C. says:

We have always been very strict with our children at first and given them privileges only when earned. After years of educating her and monitoring her computer use and never finding one thing inappropriate, we let our daughter choose a laptop for her room over a sweet 16 party. We still make her keep her door open and have the ability to monitor her keystrokes. She doesn’t abuse the privilege.

July 1, 2008 at 5:16 pm
(3) fanny says:

I am a working mom. So laptop or not in her room or public area won’t make that much difference when I am not there. So I watch what she does and let her know the rules about what she can and can’t do and make sure she understands the dangers. I know that at some point, I won’t be there and she will be along with her computer, or other things. So I try to find the balance and monitor things, etc. I also make sure she understands ramifications of what she does. So far at age 14 the kid is pretty down to earth. She gets that you don’t send e-mails when mad, you don’t talk about other people via e-mail and that posting on the internet if your not careful is like advertising everything to everyone. I also told her stories about girls not getting jobs because of the riskee pictures they posted on the web. I can’t do much better, I work, I am not home and she is home for at least 3 hours everyday without me, we have rules, but reality says that I can’t lean over her shoulder all the time, so I have to trust her a bit, but also make sure she understands its a priveledge to be trusted.

August 21, 2008 at 5:19 pm
(4) Alysha says:

My father is a computer technician and so is my cousin and my elder brother. I have had my own computer since I was 7 and it was mine to use as I pleased. My parents trusted me and I never abused that trust. Now I have my own laptop, instead of a desktop and I can take it where ever I want because it’s mine and I may do with it what I wish to. However, I know not to visit certain sites and I know not to chat with someone I don’t know. To me that’s common sense and my parents have never needed to tell me that or monitor my activity on my computer to know that. And sometimes we don’t want you reading over our shoulder as we talk about that cute boy in class to our best friends. It’s certainly okay to worry and want to monitor your teen but if nothing in the past has led you to beleive they will be irresponsible you shouldn’t restrict the use of the laptop to an open area. If you wanted it to be restricted you should have bought a desk top.

October 26, 2008 at 11:39 pm
(5) Most Wanted Woman says:

The best method of warning your children of the dangers of Cybercrime is to sit down with them and show them actual criminal case results and statistics. Teach them ways to protect their Identity. Teenagers will always find ways around the rules, even if just out of curiosity.

April 28, 2009 at 1:01 am
(6) Sher says:

The “Contract for Laptop Use” is wonderful, thanks! It’s such a great idea to spell out all the responsibilities and consequences. After doing research for articles on cyberbullying, I think a watchful eye is crucial.

March 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(7) Hayley says:

I got my first desktop when I was 7 or 8. My dad could see what websites I went on and it had some kind of software that can be adjusted that controlled when I could access the internet and that time frame was changed as I got older. Now I’m 14 and I got a laptop for Christmas last year. I have no limit of how long I’m allowed on (but if I spend TOO MUCH time on my computer then I get told to go outside or take the dog for a walk). My parents basically trust me fully because I have no monitoring software anymore and I can take it wherever I like (like to Taiwan in 20 days). I use it mostly for school work and for entertainment (I record and mix song tracks and make videos and write… a lot) and for my music and movies. My parents were unsure if they should’ve given me a laptop at 14 but they think they made the right choice because I know the risks and how to avoid things like that and I also know not to download anything that could harm my computer.

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