It just happens that we are both teachers too, and if I think that all students should have a computer at 6th grade, I'd like to see how that works in my own home.
The boy's birthday is September 8th, and he'll be turning 12. He's a first-born who is the model of responsibility and it's really a little gross how genuinely attuned he is to what his duties are to himself, family, and community. So here is what is going on. He's been saving for half of the money toward a laptop for three years and has about $1000 in his savings account. Also, he has cash on hand that he uses for his entertainment (church festivals, comic books, movies), and has proven that he knows the value of money. He took a babysitting certification class over the summer, paying half for it, and has begun working for other families.
As far as usage at home, we monitor all his e mail communications and texts, and have dealt with a few blips in appropriate language (two incidents a year ago) and have allowed him to Google chat (no video except family), and audio chat as long as he is in family common areas. We bristle at the word "suck", so we're really pretty conservative about what we approve of him saying aloud let alone in print. We're completely aware that in his tree house and playing basketball with friends the conversation will be what they deem appropriate, and that's part of his growing up, etc. But we like that he knows how to censor himself and change gears based upon the situation.
Therefore, with the great deals on laptops at the moment, (and pressure to walk the talk) we decided to go ahead and do it at the time of his birthday with grandparents and us (parents) covering our portion so that he can have a very nice laptop. It's a Toshiba Satellite, 15.6" display with 3 GB of memory (expandable to 8) and a 320 GB hard drive. $500.
We know that we are jumping off into a new world, but we want him to learn to handle information and manage the technology. Anyone else facing this great new leap?
Here is the agreement that he will have to sign on Wednesday. It will have drool on it by the time he signs it, I'm sure. I'll let you know the first time we have an infraction, and the first two weeks are sure to be ugly.
Agreement for Computer Usage
1. 11.Having access to a computer is not a right. I will remember that I may only use my computer for school or entertainment as my parents allow. I will provide all passwords that I use to my parents.
2. 22. Anything that is on my computer may be viewed at any time by my parents.
3. 33.I will use my laptop DOWNSTAIRS. If I want to take my laptop upstairs to my room, I will ask for special permission and explain why it is necessary.
4. I will ALWAYS tell a parent or another adult immediately, if something is confusing or seems scary or threatening, or just doesn’t seem right.
5. I will NEVER give out my full name, real address, telephone number, school name or location, schedule, password, or other identifying information when I'm online. I will check with an adult for any exceptions.
6. I will NEVER set up a face-to-face meeting with someone I've met online.
7. I will NEVER respond online to any messages that use bad words or words that are scary, threatening, or just feel weird. If I get that kind of message, I'll print it out and tell an adult immediately. The adult can then contact the online service or appropriate agency. If I'm uncomfortable in a live chat room, I will use the "ignore" button.
8. I will NEVER go into a new online area that is going to cost additional money without first asking permission from my parent or teacher.
9. I will NEVER send a picture over the Internet or via regular mail to anyone without my parent's permission.
10. I will NOT give out a credit card number online without a parent present.
By agreeing to these terms, I accept responsibility for my actions, and will remember to protect my online reputation just as I protect my reputation in face to face interactions.
Young Person___________________________ Date__________________