Teaching your kids about internet and social media safety is more important than teaching them how to use the device itself. Trust me, your kids are savvy enough to figure it out–maybe even faster than you! You wouldn’t give your child a car to drive without driving lessons right? Giving them a device that accessing the internet (and essentially the world) is the same thing. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to set some ground rules for internet & social media safety.
Your kids are more likely than you are to use unsafe websites that steal data. You can even be at risk for identity theft!
While some of the information your child could provide is publicly available (your address and landline phone number are not private), they may also enter passwords on websites that look real – in other words, they could fall for a phishing scam.
Parents are faced with a dilemma: banning a child from the Internet prevents them from doing homework and playing games with their school friends, but there’s no way to completely protect them from the dangers that await them.
Teach Them What Kind of Information is Okay to Share
While talking about ourselves is a normal part of making friends, it’s also a way for predators to learn too much about us.
Tell your kids about the obvious things to keep private: their town, school, last name, where their parents work, and anything about their bodies.
Only Tell the Truth About Social Media Safety
If you lie or exaggerate the dangers of the Internet and social media safety to your children, they’ll lose their trust in you.
They won’t believe you about the actual things they need to watch out for, and won’t take you seriously when you talk about any other issues.
Kids aren’t dumb, and they will catch onto these lies and exaggerations.
Talk About Why Age Restrictions Exist
Your child may want to use social media or view content that’s made for adults. As we all know, it’s very easy to lie about your age to access these websites. Remind your kids about why it’s not okay to do that. Teach them about why age restrictions exist for social media safety – to protect them and their information. Remember, there are even laws that prevent websites from taking data from children!
Put it this way: a website’s rules say you can’t use that site because the website would be breaking the law if they allow you to.
Teach Them to Say “No”
Let’s face it: your kids are going to interact with strangers, and there’s a good chance some will be adults. Predators rely on children being gullible and obedient in order to get what they want. Teach your child that it’s okay to say “no” when they’re uncomfortable! Boundaries come in many shapes and sizes, so for them, “no” may be verbal, a report to the website, or using the block button. When your child sets these boundaries, they are in control.
The Internet can be a scary place for children, but you can make it safer. While parents can’t always look over their child’s shoulder, they can talk about online safety in a way that empowers them to protect themselves. Predators’ tactics, new scams, and viruses evolve with every new Internet update, but most of these safety tips can be carried over into the next generation of Internet usage. Your child won’t just be safe now – they’ll be safe for life.
Teach Them Appropriate Conversations to Have Online
Predators bring up conversation topics that safe people don’t. On any platform where two or more people can talk to each other, they’re able to block users.
Make a guideline of topics they should block a person for bringing up.
Examples of inappropriate conversation topics that your child should know to avoid include puberty and their bodies, sexual intercourse, your family’s personal problems, medical conditions, and what they look like.
When kids know what to avoid, they can enjoy the Internet without running into danger. Arm your children with the knowledge they need to stay safe!