The internet is an amazing thing, literally a world of information right at our fingertips. Technology today allows us to break through the barriers of the past and make incredible leaps in education. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous place, especially for unsuspecting kids and teens. Teaching proper online safety precautions can go a long way to help keep your child out of harm’s way.
What online safety is & what it is not
There are many philosophies on the best ways to keep kids safe online. Censorship and setting strict limits may be warranted in some circumstances, and are, in fact, often used in school settings, however it is not going to help them in the long run. The focus here is to teach kids how to be safe online without blocking websites, implementing substantial online restrictions or domineering monitoring. Our hope is to empower kids with enough knowledge to begin setting up good habits that they can follow their entire lives.
Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online
Talk about it
Even though teenagers don’t always act like they’re listening, they absorb more than you think. Talk to your kids about online safety and make sure they understand the following:
- Never give out personal information to people they meet online, including their real name, address, phone number, financial information, school name, passwords or other private information.
- Only chat with friends you know in real life on private messagers.
- Don’t arrange real life meetings with people you meet online unless you have a parent with you.
- Do not download anything from an unfamiliar website.
- Don’t respond to email from an unknown address.
- Only post things you feel comfortable with everyone seeing, including your parents, teachers, and future employers.
Kids and teenagers don’t always respond well to lectures, which is why scenarios can be helpful. Talk through different scenarios to help them figure out what to do “on their own”. If you’re having trouble making up your own scenarios, click here for a few examples to get you started. Read the scenarios together, but try not to give too much direction, instead encourage them to figure out what the answers should be. Ask questions like ”What would you do in that situation?”, “Is there a problem with this situation?”, “How do you think that could have been handled differently?”. The point is to help your child reach their own conclusions about the innate danger within your scenarios.
Keep the conversation going
The internet keeps changing and evolving, so should your internet safety conversation. Make sure your children know they can talk to you if they’re not sure what to do or have questions about safety online.