How to Teach your Child about Online Safety

Father showing son something on a tablet computer

Children spend a lot of time online and there is no doubt that the Internet can be an extremely useful tool for young people. However, what children do not always know is that there are many potential dangers to using the Internet. From cyber bullying and damaged reputations to more serious Internet dangers, such as exposure to sexual predators, it is important for parents to take control and be a role model for their children’s online safety.

Here are some tips for ensuring your child stays safe online:

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of using the Internet. Make sure they understand that people can impersonate others and create fake profiles. As a parent, you can review their friends list to make sure they are talking to real people and to check whether or not they know these people in everyday life.
  • If your child is in a chat room or using social media, parents can set privacy settings to control with whom they talk. You can also turn off their phone location to ensure others cannot see where your child is located.
  • Make sure the online sites that your child is visiting are age appropriate. Check out Common Sense Media for lists of child-appropriate games, apps, websites, TV shows, and books.
  • Teach your children to use appropriate behavior online. For example, children should not post mean or cruel messages about others online. Ask your child to think about how others may view what they are posting and whether their comments may come across as rude or embarrassing. Inform them of the risks of posting personal information that they may not feel comfortable sharing with others.
  • Think before you post! Let your children know that any information they post online will always be there — even if they delete that information. Explain to them how inappropriate information can damage one’s chances of being admitted to college, receiving a scholarship, or getting a job.
  • Help your child understand what information should be kept private, for example, Social Security number, residential address, bank account details.

Check out these video clips for helpful ideas on what you can do as a parent to protect your children when they are exploring and learning online:

References

Consumer Information. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2017, The Federal Trades Commission, from https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/protecting-kids-online

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