Adopting families face some special challenges when it comes to using the internet – the rise of social media has made it easier than ever before for birth parents to find and open communication with their children, and that’s not a good thing if there’s a reason to restrict communication. Here are a few tips to help your entire family use the internet in safety.
The very first thing to do is decide how much information you want to put online. The basic rule of thumb is to assume that any information put online will eventually be visible to everyone. Manipulating privacy settings can mitigate this, but it’s too easy to create a digital footprint unless you’re specifically avoiding it.
Names tend to be the biggest part of this, especially if they’re uncommon. Birth parents who want to find their children are likely to start by searching for people with that name, then start by narrowing things down. If the adopted child is going to use their real name online – and 92% of teens do – they should at least specifically disable communications from people they don’t know and come to you for approval of anyone new.
Monitoring Their Online Activities
Some parents are hesitant to monitor their children, fearing that it’s an invasion of privacy – and that’s an understandable concern, especially for adopted children that have trust issues and desperately want to have a place of solitude and safety. However, the digital world is not the best place for that – especially if the birth parents begin to feel guilty about giving their child up for adoption and start trying to take them back.
One solution to this is using technology to monitor their online activities, and some professionals even believe this to be a parental responsibility. The critical point to remember is that monitoring isn’t about making the child feel uncomfortable or somehow invading their privacy – it’s about making sure people aren’t twisting their emotions and leading them into something they shouldn’t be doing.
Keeping It Open
Another good strategy is placing all access points in a family area, facing open space. This helps to prevent the idea of the internet being a private world for children and allows you to keep a closer eye on what they’re doing.
You can also keep things open by setting up special, unique accounts that your child can use to communicate with their birth parents. This allows you to isolate and control the flow of information, especially when used in conjunction with enhanced privacy settings. The birth parents don’t need to learn every detail of the child’s life – in fact, if you want to avoid prompting them into feelings of guilt, they shouldn’t know too many details. Humans tend to get attached to things they know more of, and the adoption process is difficult enough as it is.
Finally, avoid creating the image that you’re a barrier to what your adopted child wants to do. Instead, try to convince them that you’re a solution who can help them get what they want – it’s much easier to keep your child safe when they understand that you’re just trying to help.