This year for Christmas I got Annie her first computer. We have always had the kids’ computer in our common area, but as both of the girl’s homework has grown it has become increasingly difficult for them to use the same computer.

I remember when I got my first computer. Let’s just say it was a “simpler” time, viruses came on floppy disks, and the internet was still an academic / peaceful place. So much has changed since then. Before giving it to her, I wrote up 10 Practical Rules that she should always keep in mind when using her computer and the Internet.

Since it’s likely that other young people (or anyone for that matter) are getting computers this holiday season, I thought it would be valuable to share this letter.


Dear Annie,

This computer is yours – it opens the door to a world of learning, making, sharing, communicating, entertainment and fun.

With the awesomeness of having your own computer and access to the internet comes the big responsibility of using it wisely and staying away from the bad parts of the internet. We know you understand the difference between what is right and wrong, and we’re counting on you to enjoy what is good and click away from what is wrong.

You need to learn about who and what you can trust. This is not easy as there are many devious people on the internet trying to trick you into installing something or doing something you shouldn’t do. Remember, if something makes you uncomfortable, gives you a bad feeling or looks wrong, it probably is. Come to your parents right away and we’ll help you.

To get you started here are a few practical rules for your computer.

10 Practical Rules for your new computer

  • Use strong passwords, and never tell your passwords to anyone.
  • Make sure you install Operating System and Anti-Virus updates.
  • Be VERY careful what programs you install on your computer – when in doubt DON’T install.
  • Backup – Backup – Backup. If you want to keep something, back it up.
  • Your email address and personal information is private – be careful how you share it.
  • Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Verify with an adult if it’s important.
  • Respect what others have made. Don’t use others music/movies/code without their permission.
  • There are people on the internet who don’t believe or have the same opinions as you. Ignore them.
  • Understand that anything on your computer could possibly make it to the internet. If you don’t want anyone to see something, don’t put it on your computer.
  • Don’t let anyone use your computer who you don’t trust to obey rules 1-9.
  • Please don’t use up all the toner in our printer. That stuff is expensive.

Merry Christmas!
Dad and Mom