This summer marks the summer my kids got online. I gave them “the talk” and set down some ground rules.

  1. Never send a photo of yourself to a stranger.
  2. What you say online is the same as saying it in person. If you’re a mean person online, it’s the same as being mean in person.
  3. No spamming. Conversations are a back and forth.
  4. It’s okay to leave the chatroom if you’re uncomfortable.

Hopefully this sets a good foundation for “being online”. It’s earlier than we planned, but with friends’ travel schedules, COVID quarantines, and Texas heat advisories; parent-initiated Zooms and FaceTimes weren’t scaling. We’re now letting the kids self-govern their online hangouts through FaceTime and Messenger Kids. We’ve been conservative about what our kids can do with their devices (time limits, age/content restrictions, parent approval to download/buy, no open chat, etc) and some of those levers will stay in place, but it’s the beginning of a new era.

There’s already been some timezone-related 5:00 AM calls made, but hopefully with a bit more nudging around social norms this goes well.