Online Safety Tips for Parents & Caregivers
Protecting our kids online may seem like a daunting task, especially with new apps, games and websites popping up daily. This vitally important part of parenting may seem overwhelming but if you utilize the basic tools below it will equip you to better protect your child, feel empowered to understand the signs of potential danger and understand what to do if you suspect something.
1. Do Your Homework – review the device you are considering purchasing for your child. Ask questions. Make sure you have a full understanding of who can and cannot contact your child on the device.
2. You Make the Rules – set clear boundaries for your child regarding their devices. Focus on what apps they can use, what they can download and when they can use them. If you haven’t already set these rules with your teen, it is never too late to start, remember who pays the phone bill.
3. Educate Your Child – make sure your child understands that predators exists and educate them on the tactics these predators may try and use. These tactics may include:
- Asking for illicit images, offering to trade images or offering to give them something of value in return for an illicit image
- A stranger asking for help or advice
- A stranger giving a compliment or “liking” their images or updates on a regular basis.
4. Have Conversation – the more open conversation you have with your child about safety the better, even if they get annoyed. Ask them questions, ask them to teach you about a new app, ask them to show you how to play their new favorite game. Use their devices as a way to connect with them not as a potential wedge between you.
5. Don’t Be Fooled – kids are brilliant and so much faster at picking up on new online tools. Make sure you are aware of apps that exist to hide their activity and you are monitoring for them.
What to Look For
Knowing what to look for in behavior changes and other indicators will also give you a key advantage to protect your child. Here are the basic signs:
- Unexpected gifts showing up from people you do not know
- Spending an increasing amount of time online
- Trying to conceal what they are doing on their device
- Sudden change in appearance
- Sudden change in behavior such as onset of depression or anger
- Becoming angry when the device is taken away
If any of these indicators are present, dig a little deeper. Your child may be being targeted by traffickers, online predators or cyberbullies. If you suspect that one of these things is happening report it. You can report to the app or website they are using, law enforcement or through National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) cyber tip line.
We know the internet has created an entirely new danger to protect our loved ones from, however, the importance of watching out for this young generation is wildly important! Traffickers will continue to find vulnerable victims that they can recruit online, we must put up a fight and protect those that we can.