In the modern, digital world, it has never been more important to practice online safety. Everybody uses the internet, from the elderly to even many toddlers. It’s best to start talking to your kids about online safety as soon as they have access.
Approach the Conversation Without Judgment
You need your kids to feel safe. Your kids should feel that they can trust you when it comes to the internet; that means that if or when they make a mistake or encounter something damaging, they can come to talk to you about it openly. Establish this trust by beginning the conversation without judgment. Explain to them that the internet can contain many scary or dangerous things and that everybody comes across it sometimes. Tell them that they should tell you immediately if you encounter something strange. Go through some possible common scenarios with your child that deal with internet stranger danger and other common possibilities.
Teach Them Not to Share Personal Information
Emphasize the difference between the internet and your everyday run-of-the-mill stranger danger. Talk about the importance of information. Explain how some information – like names, ages, birthdays, and addresses – can be used for crime. Make sure that kids know not to share any personal information about you or themselves. Even though young people are more tech-savvy, they’re still vulnerable to identity theft. Also make sure to talk about the importance of avoiding strange websites, links, and ads that could contain viruses that steal information. This can especially be a risk when kids want an easy, free download of a song or a game. Make sure to remind them to come talk to you if anything suspicious does happen.
Talk About Mature Material
Kids are naturally curious. They’re going to want to explore parts of the internet that they probably shouldn’t. Talk to them about the possibility of them finding internet pornography. You should especially tell them to be wary of anyone, no matter who they say they are, asking for photos or video calls. Again, talk about stranger danger in the context of the internet. Tell them to avoid both at all costs – but be supportive and ready to help them when some inevitable exposure does take place. Look out not only for pornographic material, but anything that is too graphic for children – such as violence and gore.
Online safety is nothing short of essential nowadays. Check to see if your child’s school has any courses, lectures, or lessons on internet safety in their computer lab. The most important and helpful thing you can do for your child is to communicate clearly and lovingly.
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