We're pretty strict about the kids using the internet, and have one safeguarded terminal and account for both to share. I use a timer and allow them one hour intervals. I monitor their online activities with spot checks and have regular talks with them about what they're doing, what are appropriate activities and what aren't.
My eleven-year-old daughter has been asking to have the internet enabled on her own computer in her bedroom for a couple of months now, and decided to put her arguments on paper. Thus I was recently served with this masterpiece (verbatim, 100% her spelling and wording):
101 Reasons why I should have the internet on my computer
1. I need it for school projects.
2. I'm old enough to have the internet.
3. I'm a responsible kid, aren't I?
4. All of my peers have it on their own computer.
5. [Her favorite web site] is a good place to learn.
6. It's only fair.
7. It's the only thing on my wish list.
8. I promise I won't spend too long on it every day.
9. I will not abuse it.
10. I know HTML and I can do really good things on the internet.
11. I promise not to go on e-bay or any selling site.
12. Pretty please! With 1000 cherries on top of vanilla fudge swirl ice cream!?
13. Man I'm running out of ideas!
14. It's fast and reliable!
15. Cause you love me.
16. You know you want to.
17. I will pay for it.
18. I'll be good for a year.
19. I'll do anything!
20. I can't believe I made it to 20! Oh well 81 things to go!....I think.
21. Why can't I have it?
22. It's better and cheaper than a snake, the only other thing on my list and the internet won't eat you!
23. I'll take my shots like a big girl! [Mom note: by shots she means her immunizations at the pediatrician's, which she hates]
24. I'll kiss your feet! (No I won't)
25. I'll brush my teeth every day 3 times a day.
26. I'll give you a piece of hard candy.
27. Because it's the only thing my computer is missing.
28. I love [her favorite web site] and I really need to [activity on her favorite web site] without my brother bothering me.
29. You won't have to listen to us complain about who has to go on the internet first.
30. 1 word: Silence.
31. I have nothing else to do.
32. I have a graphics site that needs me to make layouts and tend to it every day.
33. 2 words: pretty-please.
34. I also need paint shop pro.
35. Ok, I'm out of ideas, time to go to begging.
36. PLEASE!!!!!!! I NEED IT BAD!!!!!!!
37. Ok I'm done begging.
38. What to write! What to write!!
39. I'll do my homework 5 times in a row for five days, hey! It's the 555 deal at pizza hut!!!
40. What should I write....*falls asleep*...yhtuhhhhhffhffffhhhhgffgfgfhhg...*Huh!*
41. I'll bake you a cake! Hey! I rhyme! Bake-cake? You don't get it do you....
42. Ok back to begging.
43. Can I have it.
44. Can I have it.
45. Can I have it.
46. Can I have it.
47. Can I have it.
48. Can I have it.
49. Can I have it.
50. Can I have it.
51. Can I have it.
52. Can I have it.
53. Can I have it.
54. Can I have it.
55. Ok done begging, wow 2nd page already!
56. Goooo 2nd page!
57. Woo Hoo!
58. Think Me think!!
59. Hmmmmm....Ah, no....no, not that.....hmmmm....
60. I love it when I run out of ideas.
61. I question: to beg or to sit here babbling like an idiot, I chose sit here babbling like an idiot.
62. Did you know I love to talk about nothing?
63. I do it all the time.
64. It's fun.
65. Can I go to bed now?
66. Ah ha! Got something.
67. I'll do the laundry.
68. I'll do the dishes.
69. I'll pick up cat poop.
70. I'll walk the dog.
71. I'll walk the cat.
72. I'll take care of my hamster.
73. I'll teach the dog to say: "Ruy Rathy rhe rinternet"
74. I'll raise money for charity.
75. I will love you.
76. I'll even walk my hamster.
77. I'll buy breakfast.
78. I'll cook breakfast.
79. I'll buy lunch.
80. I'll make lunch.
81. I'll buy dinner.
82. I'll make dinner.
83. Coffee anyone? Not until I see [her favorite web site] on my computer!
86. I'll give you a dollar.
87. I'll give you 20 dollars.
89. Dad will not let me use his e-mail so I cannot give my friends the [activity on her favorite web site.]
90. WOW I made it to 90!!! next page!
91. I will not bother you.
92. I will not fight with my brother.
93. I promise I will be respectful.
94. I will do my best in school.
95. I won't spent all of my time on the internet.
96. I will put away my clothes when you tell me to.
97. I'll get off when you tell me to, without me fearing that my brother will get on without telling.
98. I'll do the dishes and laundry for 2 years.
99. I'll help you out a lot.
100. I'll cook with you.
101. And most importantly, it's because I really want to have my own privacy, on my own internet, without having to fear of my brother ruining my [favorite web site] account, or doing something to my account that is in reversible to it, ruining it forever, and that is 101 reasons why I should have my own internet. Thank you for understanding.
It's funny and a bit eerie (she's managed to counter every single objection I had against giving her independent internet access.) All chuckles aside, it took my daughter two days to compose this and type it up.
On her own she's taught herself how to type, and how to code with HTML from internet tutorial sites, and now volunteers to design web pages for other kids she knows. She's not just playing. She's interacting, learning, and growing. I want to encourage that as much as possible -- but I have to keep her safe, too.
Much to think about.