How to Talk with Kids about Online Safety

Nov 22, 2013

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Impromptu Laptop LocationAs the number of social media platforms continually grow, it is increasingly important for parents to discuss online safety with their children. However, it can be difficult to know what to say, how to say it, or even where to start. Here are some tips for talking to kids about these issues.

Be straightforward. Kids appreciate honesty. If parents are transparent and explain the reasons behind their decisions, then kids will value what you have to say.

For example, instead of simply "ordering" a child to remove photos or personal information from Facebook, explain why those posts contain potential danger (privacy issues that lead to identity theft; college admissions boards and employers look at Facebook now; sexual predators hunting for prey).

Let your kids know your highest priority is their safety. Kids like feeling protected and safe. Use open discussions to convey your desires and efforts to protect you kids. Talk about potentially dangerous topics.

Cyberbullying affects many teens, but most will not talk with their parents about the issue. You must initiate the dialogue. If anything seems suspicious or amiss, you must take action, swiftly and decisively. If necessary, do not hesitate to involve school officials or the police. If there are signs of trouble, counseling might be desired.

Be accessible. Most kids can feel embarrassed, shy, or ashamed when reporting certain online encounters. Many won't tell a parent if they see sexually inappropriate images or videos on the Internet, whether on purpose or by accident. 

Kids also won't divulge if they have been sexually propositioned. They won't mention if they have received or sent a sexually explicit text. Kids will share these types of "confessions" once they consider a parent as a trusted advisor. 

Communication is important. It helps parents understand their children and their position. Net Nanny can also help link parents with their children's online activities. It is an important software tool that monitors Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, helping to keep parents informed.