Keeping Your Kids Safe on the Internet This Summer

School is out, and summer is finally here. What does that mean? Kids will have a lot more time on their hands. Chances are that most kids won’t spend their days running around the yard playing in sprinklers this summer. Unfortunately, thanks to modern technology, many children will spend their time glued to a smart phone, tablet, or gaming system. For parents, the modern age of online entertainment raises brand new concerns about how to protect their children. Parents can’t just tell their kids not to run up to an ice cream truck without an adult anymore. Social media has opened up a whole new world of peril for kids.

Aside from the obvious dangers of pornography and sexual predators online, there are new threats that have risen with the popularity of social media. Children now have an online reputation to maintain, and the bullying that used to torment kids in the hall between classes has evolved to the new age of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying can be even more cruel and hurtful than traditional bullying due to the ability to hide the bully’s true identity, and it doesn’t stop after school is out.
The good news is that parents can help their kids stay safe online. First, it’s always important to set up parental controls to limit what your child has access to online. You can set these options on iPods, tablets, and even Xbox. After setting up parental controls, it is important to review your child’s browsing history and increase the parental controls if necessary. The best way to keep your kids safe online, however, is to keep an open line of communication with your kids and teach them how to protect themselves. Talk about social media regularly, and follow up to make sure they are playing it safe online.

Here are some tips to share with your kids to help them stay safe online. (1) Never share your internet passwords with your friends. (2) Block users that send harassing messages. (3) Do not reply to harassing messages. (4) Never post your full name, address, phone number, school name, or other personal information that could help a stranger to find you. (5) Use only “private” online accounts, and don’t let anyone you don’t know in real life follow you online. (6) Never send pictures of yourself to anyone you “met” online. (7) Never post inappropriate or embarrassing pictures or videos online or text them to your friends. Not surprisingly, cyber bullies are often old friends that have become “frenemies.”

Teach your kids about the dangers of social media. Talk to them about how to stay safe online, and keep an open line of communication about their online social life. Most importantly, spend time with your kids, and stay involved in their life. Get them off the couch and outside doing something fun as often as you can.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Sources:

4 Dangers of the Internet; http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/4-dangers-internet ; Four things you can do to help protect kids online; http://www.microsoft.com/security/family-safety/childsafety-steps.aspx