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7 Basic rules for sharing a family computer

Not every household can afford for each family member to have his or her own tablet. If you’re sharing a computer or other tech device, these tips are essential.

Mother and daughter sharing the computer |

Whether you’re a tech-simple household or just sometimes share that desktop in the office, sharing a computer or other tech device with family members can be a little tricky. Luckily, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to avoid dealing with unwanted viruses, finding gooey messes or accidentally updating your daughter’s Facebook page.


Create separate accounts for each family member (and a password-free guest account)

Creating separate accounts is key to sharing a computer. First, it means any work or family finances you do on your own log-in can’t be accessed by kids or visitors. It also makes it easier to monitor your kids’ screen time. Finally, your kids will appreciate having a space of their own on the computer. We also suggest a password-free guest account so the baby sitter won’t disrupt date night when she wants to order a pizza or work on homework after bedtime.


Know your kids’ passwords (and make sure your kids know not to share their passwords with anyone else)

It’s important that you have access to your kids’ accounts in case of an emergency. We also suggest you occasionally peek in to assure your little angels are still behaving properly. And make sure they don’t share their passwords with anyone else. You might trust your kiddos, but what about that mischievous neighbor boy?


Don’t share your password

You do a lot of important business on that machine — banking, taxes, extra work and Christmas gift planning. If you set up a password-free guest account, there’s absolutely no reason anyone should need to access yours, family member or otherwise. This will help keep all of your important documents and information safe.


Create a schedule and/or set time limits

Consider locking accounts after a certain time as well as setting time limits per account. Some devices even get as specific as time limits for games versus homework on word processing programs. Creating a schedule means you don’t have to watch the clock and helps avoid sibling brawls over the keyboard.


Talk to your kids about acceptable and safe internet use

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many parents just assume their kids “know better.” Most important, make sure your kids understand that once they send something out into the internet, it’s nearly impossible to delete it. And help them set up privacy settings so creepy strangers can’t see pictures from that recent pool party. Finally, teach them what links to avoid clicking. If their BFF sends a link to donate money to help them escape a Zambian jail and they just saw their bestie last night, they should definitely not click the link!


Run virus scan every night

Most virus scans run once a week or every three days, but you can schedule them to run more often. You can drill internet safety into your babies’ heads all you want, but everyone makes mistakes, including sleep-deprived moms! Having your virus scan run every night or morning will help keep your computer functioning properly.


Have a strict “no food or drinks” rule

Finally, save yourself from a pizza sauce covered iPad or a Gatorade-filled keyboard by setting this rule immediately and sticking to your guns. We even suggest you leave parental rule breaking until after bedtime, just to help ensure the severity.

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