On top of trying our hardest to keep our kids with autism safe on the school bus, the classroom, the playground and the neighborhood, we still have to worry about computers. Whether your child is diagnosed with autism or not, I always had a policy in my house that all computers were used in a living room, kitchen, den; anywhere that we would be in at the same time and could see the screen. We also took it one step further and kept track of all the passwords and sites the kids would visit. I kept these in a binder in a locked box. When it was time for the computer to be used and I recommend starting out with a set amount of time that the child or teen is using the computer, I would then be the one to sign them into whatever site it is they want to visit and that includes You Tube and Facebook. The home page when you click to enter the internet is one where there is no "searching" allowed.
Many of our kids with autism have a few issues with the computer: 1. The time they spend is often a battle. So start off from the beginning with a timer that is not accessible to them but in a place where you both can see it - or better yet, use an electrical timer that will shut off the computer when the time is up. Of course be sure to give a warning of time that is left so it's not happening abruptly and causing upset and frutration. 2. The use of You Tube as a site for the child to be perseverative on particular sections of movies, videos, etc. Some of these are not just movies like Toy Story or shows like Blues Clues that in the old days that hit repeat on the VCR to watch over and over. These videos might be ones that uploaded by people who are looking for as many hits as they can get, so the content may not be appropriate. In a quick flash second, the child may click on the "suggested sites" that are along the side bar, again, not appropriate. 3. Lastly, there are lessons to be taught about safety for the kids, whether autistic or not, and how to protect themselves from cyber-bullying, not only on Facebook and Tumblr, but on sites that are "Sim" type sites - where the cyber world is created. There are predators in those just as there are in real life.
Going back to what I originally said and that is as a parent start out with complete control of the computer and the internet. It's not like when we were young and t.v.s were used as a babysitter, this is far more serious.
So how do I keep track of all those sites like Club Penguin and Facebook and then all the sites I visit and shop from? Here's a form that you can download and print out. Keep it in a binder that is handy to you only and one copy in a locked box that is fireproof, waterproof and is part of your evacuation kit in an emergency. I live in a flooded zone area and I'm always prepapred since our last evacuation and most people should be too, especially if you have a child with autism, but that's another article for another day. In the meantime, create a notebook with spaces to write in these answers or purchase one at bookstore. I prefer to make my own template containing the following information:
URL or Site Name:
Email Account Used:
Security Question and Answer (s):