Keep your Kids Safe Online
Much of modern life takes place online, so it’s become increasingly important to make sure our children are kept safe while they learn to navigate the virtual world. Luckily, a few common sense tips can make things much safer. The following list of suggestions comes from the Federal Trade Commission.
- Kids should post only what they’re comfortable with others seeing. Parts of your children’s profiles may be seen by a broader audience than you — or they — are comfortable with, even if they use privacy settings. Encourage your kids to think about the language they use online, and to think before posting pictures and videos, or altering photos posted by someone else. Employers, college admissions officers, coaches, teachers, and the police may view these posts.
- Remind kids that once they post it, they can’t take it back. Even if they delete the information from a site, they have little control over older versions that may be saved on other people’s devices and may circulate online. And a message that’s supposed to disappear from a friend’s phone? There’s software that lets them keep it.
- Help your kids understand what information should stay private. Tell them why it’s important to keep some things — about themselves, family members, and friends — to themselves. Information like their Social Security number, street address, phone number, and family financial information is private and should stay that way.
- Talk to your teens about avoiding sex talk online. Teens who don’t talk about sex with strangers online are less likely to come in contact with predators. In fact, researchers have found that predators usually don’t pose as children or teens, and most teens who are contacted by adults they don’t know find it creepy. Teens should not hesitate to ignore or block them, and trust their gut when something feels wrong.
- Send group messages with care. Suggest that your kids think about who needs to see their message before sending to multiple people.
- Use privacy settings. Many social networking sites, chat, and video accounts have adjustable privacy settings, so you and your kids can restrict who has access to kids’ profiles. Talk to your kids about the importance of these settings, and your expectations for who should be allowed to view their profile.
- Review your child’s friends list. Suggest that your kids limit online “friends” to people they actually know. Ask about who they’re talking to online.