Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

03 Feb Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

teensBy: Ruben Rucoba, MD

Tuesday, February 11 is Safer Internet Day, a campaign that started in Europe in 2004 to raise awareness about online dangers and to promote the responsible use of the internet among all ages. As parents, there are actions you can take to teach your children and teens how to be respectful, responsible, and safe:

  • Monitor their history: Make sure you have access to their devices and look to see what sites they visit, who they’ve been texting with, and what they do with those devices. It’s best to establish the rules as soon as they get the device: at the earliest age, the rule is that you get to monitor their phone/tablet/laptop/PC.
  • Teach them about scams: Teens, in particular, think they know everything, but they are often vulnerable to scams. Teach them that not everything is as it seems online, and use cautionary tales from your own experience or from the web. They could be speaking with someone online who is nowhere near who they say they are, otherwise known as being “catfished”. Make sure they know they shouldn’t have an online relationship with anyone they don’t know in real life.
  • Remind them that once a picture is online, it’s forever. Regardless of if they post a picture or send it through a “private message”, once it’s sent, there is no going back. This goes not only for people they do not know in real life but for people they do. Over the years, there have been countless reports of classmates using photos to blackmail and bully others. Teach your child to second-guess each click, scroll, and send they make when it comes to images, and go over the possible consequences of sending images, no matter the content, together.
  • Know their passwords: Frequently check to make sure their passwords haven’t been changed, and that you have access to their social media accounts.
  • Start a family discussion about internet safety by asking these questions:
    • You have a friend at the house and your friend asks for the password to the family iPad/tablet or to an app of yours. What do you do?
    • You’re using an app that you have permission to use, but while using the app, you get a message from someone you don’t know. What do you do?
    • You post a picture of a friend or classmate, and they ask you to take it down. What do you do?
    • An ad pops up while you’re doing a search. You click on it, and the ad takes you away from your original search. What do you do?
  • Be a model: As with all things, kids will pay more attention to what you do than to what you say. If you post pictures of your kids and they are embarrassed by them and ask you to take them down, then respect their wishes and remove them. Don’t post anonymous hostile comments online and practice other forms of civil, responsible internet behavior.


For more information and tips about keeping the internet safe, visit Connect Safely.

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