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6 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

The world is more technologically advanced and connected than ever before, thanks to the increasing accessibility of computers and smart devices. As all parents and educators know, access to the internet can be both positive and negative for children.

Internet access can give kids opportunities to develop new skills and explore nearly any interest or passion they might have, but it can also introduce them to inappropriate content, viruses, scammers and malicious individuals.

To keep kids safe online, try these six simple tips below:


1. Set Guidelines

Before kids engage in any kind of online activity, from playing their favorite video games to interacting with their friends on social media, it’s crucial that they know the importance of online safety and understand clear guidelines and expectations when it comes to their online interactions. Remind them to always reach out to you when they have questions or concerns, or if they find themselves in a situation that does not feel right to them.


2. Keep Personal Information Private

Only when given permission or specifically instructed by a parent or educator should a child share any type of personal information while online. Even though a website or individual might ask them to reveal personal information like their name, telephone number, passwords, photos of themselves, home address or school name, this does not mean they should provide it. Similarly, be aware of strangers online. Remind your child that some people are not truthful about their age or intentions, and they should not talk to or plan to meet with people they do not know.


3. Use Parental Controls

One effective way to provide a baseline level of online protection is to enable parental controls on the internet browser or device a child uses. These built-in capabilities filter out inappropriate content so children are not exposed to harmful material. Often, these free systems give families the ability to set time-specific limits as to how long children can access the internet. Similarly, checking the settings of your child’s apps may help prevent them from sharing more information than intended. Be extra cautious of apps that could allow children to share their location publicly or with friends.


4. Encourage Thoughtful Communication

Remind your child not to express themselves in inappropriate ways. A blog post published by Google detailing the fundamentals of internet safety suggests that users treat online communication just like face-to-face communication and remember that “if it isn’t right to say, it isn’t right to post.”


5. Practice Healthy Skepticism 

It’s crucial for children to understand that not everything they come across online can be trusted. There are even some websites that will actively try to scam or hack unsuspecting users. Help your child learn more about online hazards and remind them to always have a healthy degree of skepticism when it comes to their online interactions.


6. Teach Research Techniques

Curious kids have many questions, but as mentioned above, not everything we read online is true. While there are some great sources of up-to-date information, there are also many websites promoting false or misrepresented data. Encourage your child to take note of the date any information was published and to ask themselves if the source is trusted or credible. It is important to explain that social media should not be their only source of news or information and that if they are unsure of how to do research, they should speak to you, a teacher, their librarian or another trusted adult. Public libraries also offer a wide range of resources for children looking to do safe research.


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