As a parent, you probably have concerns about your child’s safety online. With the influx of social networking sites and easily accessible mobile devices, there’s a pressing concern on whether their action and behavior online is appropriate. Worrying doesn’t help, but what will help is a little conversation and communication with your child about online safety.
Here are 5 simple online safety tips that every parent should coach their child on:
- Sharing Too Much
Sharing is great, but sharing Too Much Information (TMI) and especially personal information online is risky. Make sure your child understands that online friends might not always be who they say they are. Sensitive private information should not be made public.
Some of the things you should tell your child not to share include their address, phone number, full name, the name of their school, names of close friends, pictures or videos of themselves, or any of their passwords.
Remember, what happens in the online world, doesn’t necessarily stay in the online world.
It’s important to help your child pick a password that is unique, memorable, and fun. Using first and last names, consecutive numbers or even ‘password’ just doesn’t cut it these days. Let them pick out their favorite game and number and combine them in an interesting way like ‘42pokemon24’. Another good password is the combination of three short words like ‘GumNoseMess’. Let them make up something silly – it will help them remember it. And always make sure they tell you what it is.
Communication with your child is vital. The two main communication types you need to teach them are permission and information. Children need to always ask permission before they do something new online. This includes things like making a purchase, trying a new game, visiting a new website, watching a new movie, looking at new pictures on Pinterest or simply searching for something new.
Teach your child to tell you when something upsets them, or they encounter something they don’t understand. They should also tell you when anything makes them feel uncomfortable.
Setting the foundation for communication helps you feel more comfortable as your child goes online.
Remember, don’t be afraid to ask your child what they are doing at any time.
- Respect for Others
Do unto others as they would do unto you. Teach your child that the golden rule applies online the same way it does offline. They should be helping and cooperating with other users whenever possible. If another user upsets them, teach them that retaliation is never the best solution. Work with your child to understand that they can always leave the game or world and come back later.
They are everywhere, and they are not going anywhere. Teach your child the difference between the game and the ads. Phones normally place them at the top or bottom of the screen – and don’t forget about those sneaky popups to purchase more gold. Free online games are notoriously bad about bombarding users with ads. Let your child know that if they are taken outside of the game that they should stop immediately and show you.
Remember to have fun with your kids online. Play games with them and show them cool places to explore and learn. Make sure that they always feel comfortable that they can talk to you.