If you’re a parent, you already know the way tweens and teens socialize is online via video game chat rooms, virtual worlds, social networking sites, and blogs.
Although the Internet offers lots of useful and entertaining information, being online can put your kids at risk of falling victims to other online users – children as well as adults – who want to exploit and/or intimidate them.
It’s your responsibility to take the necessary precautions to protect your children.
Here are seven tips to help keep your kids safe online:
- Talk to them: Explain to your children about the potential for danger online. If you have teenagers, let them know the importance of avoiding sex talk online.
- Monitor their social networking accounts: Most social media sites/apps have age requirements for their users. If you do happen to allow a younger child access to these sites, or your older tween/teen has them, make sure you have access to see what they are doing. Either ask that they connect to you or give you their password so you can check in from time to time.
- Use privacy settings: A number of social networking sites and chat rooms let you adjust the privacy settings – set them to high – so you can restrict who has access to your kids’ profiles. You should also impress upon your kids the importance of these settings and let them know who they should allow to view their profiles. You can also install parental control software that will allow you to control how your children access the Internet.
- Check out your kids’ friends list: Ask your children who they talk to online and limit their friends to people they actually know.
- Tell them to trust their instincts: You should encourage your kids to tell you if they have suspicions about someone they’re communicating with or something that happened online. You can report these concerns to the police as well as to the social networking sites, which often have links for users to report suspicious, inappropriate or abusive behaviors.
- Check their emails: You may want to randomly check your children’s email accounts, not to spy on their conversations, but rather to determine if there are any signs their communicating with predators.
- Be sure they follow basic safety guidelines: Tell you children they should never meet a stranger they’ve met online. They should also not give out any personal information that could allow someone to identify them and not download pictures from an unknown source.
Keeping your kids safe online is critical and protecting them from engaging in risky behavior online should be an important part of your responsibility as a parent.
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