Talking to Kids About Internet Safety

Today, almost everyone uses the internet. Because it’s a place of anonymity, it can be frightening to think of our children using it for any reason. However, kids need to be familiar with technology to reap its benefits and function in a world that increasingly depends on it. We’ve gathered some tips to help you ensure your kids are safe online.

Never Give Out Personal Information

Teach your children never to give out personal information over the internet. This includes everything from passwords and private email addresses to social security numbers, last names, and physical addresses. Emphasize that although the person asking may look and sound innocent, he or she might have a larger agenda. For example, an online game that asks for a player’s first and last name may be collecting that information to track down where players live. Additionally, never let your children buy anything online.

Respect Social Media Age Limits

Social media sites like Facebook have age limits; for instance, Facebook users must be at least 13. Respect these, and consider setting your own limits based on your child. For instance, you may elect not to let your children have social media accounts until they begin high school. Do not allow your child to “friend” or chat with anyone he or she doesn’t know in real life. Ask for your kids’ passwords, and keep these phrases in a close, safe place.

Discuss Cyberbullying

What someone posts on the internet can be as harmful (if not more so) than wounds inflicted with fists. Talk to your kids in age-appropriate terms about cyberbullying and what constitutes it (e.g., spreading rumors through social media or posting a negatively doctored photo of a classmate). Teach your children the signs of cyberbullying, and encourage them to come to you if they’re targeted.

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