Two Homes, One Internet: Coparenting Tips for Online Safety
You may not be familiar with the term “coparenting,” but if you have a shared custody arrangement with your child’s other parent, you are probably already doing it. Coparenting refers to a cooperative effort between divorced, or otherwise separated, parents who have decided to work together in providing the best possible situation for their child. There are countless articles and helpful guides from experts on the most important aspects of coparenting or rules for doing it correctly, but they all seem to revolve around two basic concepts: communication and consistency.
Communication is vital, not only to maintaining that consistency, but to upholding the trust of both your ex-spouse and your child. Consistency helps your child feel secure in each parent’s home, as many rules and expectations remain the same. While some rules might be more bendable, such as getting to watch a little extra TV on a particular night, others should be less flexible, not only for the sake of discipline, but your child’s safety. If your child has reached an age where he or she has begun to utilize internet resources for research or entertainment, rules regarding online safety must be established as non-negotiable in both parents’ homes.
The United States Department of Justice, as well as child welfare organizations, offer some tips for keeping your child safe online:
- Limit your child’s internet use to a computer or device in a public room of the house;
- Unsupervised use of online sites or games should not be permitted;
- Communicate and teach your child to avoid posting personal or identifying information;
- Make use of parental controls available from many Internet Service Providers;
- Go online with your child, work together to find appropriate sites, and keep the logins and passwords;
- Monitor your child’s internet activities, both at home and outside the home. For children, safety is far important than their internet privacy;
- Teach your child about online dangers, including internet predators, and scams; and
- Contact law enforcement if you even suspect your child is in danger from an online source.
By nature of your coparenting situation, you cannot directly enforce rules regarding your child's internet safety all of the time. For this reason, communication with your child and ex-spouse becomes even more important. You and your spouse must be able to establish similar expectations for internet use and monitoring so that your child’s well-being is the primary consideration.
If you have a custody arrangement in place that is no longer serving your child’s best interest, there may be options available to you under Illinois law. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Kane County for a consultation today. We will help you understand the law and together we can work toward better meeting the needs of your child.