Actionable Advice for Keeping Kids Safe Online

Children and teens are a vulnerable demographic, in part because they do not fully understand the consequences of their actions. This can be problematic when kids go online and share too much personal information or begin a dialogue with strangers. Every parent needs to be proactive about teaching their kids the basics of Internet safety

Understanding Parental Controls

Your family computer likely has the option to implement parental controls. These settings will limit which websites your children have access to. However, it’s important to understand that parental controls do have limitations. Kids can get online virtually anywhere—at school, at friends’ houses, and on their mobile phones. While parental controls can be helpful, it’s still important to take other steps to protect your kids online.

Discussing the Importance of Protecting Personal Information

Most kids do not have their own credit cards, and so the possibility of inappropriately distributing credit card information is usually not an issue. However, kids still have other personal information that needs to be protected, like their full names, addresses, phone numbers, and the name of their school and sports organizations. Talk with your child about the importance of keeping this information private and explain what might happen if the wrong person received this information.

Talking About Social Media

It’s common for kids and teens to have social media accounts. Parents should make sure that their privacy settings on these accounts are appropriate. In other words, posts should only be visible to a child’s friends. Talk to your child about not accepting a friend request unless your child knows that person in real life. Make sure you are listed as a friend on your child’s account so that you can monitor what is being posted.

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