The internet is a great place to connect with others, enjoy funny content, and learn new things. However, when it comes to kids, it’s important that they know about some of the danger that can exist online and how they can better keep themselves safe. As safe adults in their lives, you are a key player in helping kids stay safe online.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for you to share with your child about how to be safe on the internet:
DO REMEMBER AN IMAGE THAT’S SHARED ON THE INTERNET CAN’T BE DELETED
If you’re asked to send any sexually explicit photos or videos (i.e., sexting), remember that once an image is shared on the internet you may never be able to get it removed. Even if the original file is deleted, it may have been downloaded, shared with others, or had screenshots taken of it which means it can last forever. Standing up against sexting doesn’t just mean you don’t send photos. It also means you don’t ask for or spread them either.
DON’T TRUST THE DEFAULT PRIVACY SETTINGS
Most websites, apps, and games have settings that allow you to protect your privacy. Unfortunately, too often these privacy settings are not set up to keep you as safe as possible. But you can fix this. You just need to change your privacy settings so that only your real friends can connect with you. If you need help learning how to do this, here’s a page with quick links to the privacy settings pages for common apps, websites, and gaming devices.
DO BE A TINY BIT PARANOID
If someone tried to connect with you online that you haven’t met in person remember they really could be anyone. Even if they say they are friends with someone you know, that “friendship” could be fake or could be exclusively online. People can pretend to be anyone online, adults can pretend to be children, men can pretent to be women. Unless you have know someone in realy life you can’t truly be sure they are who they say they are online. That said, be careful to not meet up with people you have only ever met online, and if you are going to do this make sure to meet them in a public place and to tell someone you trust where you are going and who you are meeting up with first.
DON’T VISIT UNSAFE PLACES
Just as you wouldn’t walk down dark alleys alone at night, you should avoid creepy places online and creepy apps. You could stumble on photos or videos you don’t want to see (or maybe are even illegal!), or end up connecting with people who are looking to take advantage of you. Follow your gut, and don’t walk down the alleyways of the Internet.
DO HAVE AN EXIT PLAN
If someone is bugging you or talking to you in a way is inappropriate or that you don’t like, you can always unfriend or block them, and you shouldn’t hesitate to! You can also report them through the app, too, if something is getting really sketchy. This helps to protect others too.
DON’T AGREE TO ANYTHING THAT WOULD MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE
Even if another person seems to be a friend, they’re no friend if they’re trying to get you to do something you don’t want to or something that’s not in your best interest. If something seems off, trust your instincts. It’s hard to make a good decision when you’re feeling pressured or confused, so you should be as clear as possible in your own mind about where your boundaries are. If you need help with this, talk to someone you trust such as a friend, sibling, teacher or parent. If you’d rather talk to someone anonymously, you can text “LISTEN” to 741-741.
DO TELL SOMEONE
If you ever feel uncomfortable or think that something is sketchy, tell an adult you trust! Whether it’s a teacher, a parent or a school counselor. It’s better to talk to someone about it now, even if it means you have to confess something you did or share something that is difficult. If you wait it could become a bigger problem. If your images were shared online, you can also call the CyberTipline at 1-800-843-5678 for help.
As caring adults, its important for us to remember that kids are still learning and growing and they are going to make mistakes. Therefore, in addition to sharing these tips, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and let them know that you are there if they ever need someone to talk to or if they ever need help getting out of a difficult situation.
Want all this info in a format ready to share with your child? Visit our Online Safety Guide right here.