National Internet Safety Month: Keeping your child safe online
The Internet is a wonderful place. It allows us access to information on just about any topic imaginable. It allows us to connect with people from across the globe (or across the street) and it gives us a platform for our voices to be heard.
But for all these reasons and more, the Internet can also be a dangerous place for kids. Kids can easily find themselves on websites that are not suitable for their age group, watching inappropriate videos, talking with strangers, being cyberbullied and so much more.
While all of that may make you want to cancel your Internet service, it shouldn’t. Children need to know how to use the Internet and be tech-savvy. Sheltering them from the Internet will only hurt them in the future; instead, you need to teach your kids how to be safe when they are online.
Rules for Internet safety
Just like with underage drinking, rules for Internet safety need to be discussed early and often. You need to talk with kids early because children are getting access to internet-connected devices earlier and earlier; even preschoolers are getting iPads in class. You need to talk with children often because they – like adults – need to hear things more than once to remember them.
Internet safety tips:
- Never post your personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address or your location on any social networking site or through mobile apps like Snapchat or Instagram.
- Never meet in person with anyone you first “met” on the Internet. If someone asks to meet you, tell your parents or guardian right away. Some people may not be who they say they are.
- Never respond to mean or rude texts, messages, and e-mails. Delete any unwanted messages. You may need to delete friends who continuously bother you or post things that are not appropriate.
- NEVER share your password with anyone, including your best friend. The only people who should know your password are your parents or guardian.
- Use the privacy settings of social networking sites.
- Do not download or install software or anything on your computer or cell phone before checking with your parents or guardian.
- What are your favorite things to do online?
- What is personal information? Why should you keep it private?
- What could you do to be safer online?
- What would you do if anyone online asked to meet you face-to-face?
- Besides me, who do you feel that you can talk to if you are in a scary or uncomfortable situation?
The rules above are ones you need to make sure to cover in your discussion with your children, but don’t forget to be prepared to listen. You never know what problems or concerns your child may have about Internet use or any topic. They might want to take advantage of this time they have with you to ask questions about anything from nutrition to sex. Expect the unexpected and if you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, look it up on the Internet!
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