These days, many children and adolescents are spending more time online doing schoolwork, playing games, and socializing with friends. However, more time spent on the internet and social media can make children more vulnerable to cyberbullying, sexual predators and other forms of online harm. These risks can come not just from strangers but people they may already know on or offline, making monitoring online use vital. Here are some tips to keep your kids safe online.
Set and agree on screen time rules for time spent on homework, chatting with friends and playing games. A “no devices at dinner” or at certain other times can be a healthy rule to implement.
Talk to your child about how to make safe choices about who they talk to online, and not sharing passwords, suggestive pictures or other private information.
Tell them that you’re available to listen if they are worried about anything they experience online. Together, you might also identify trusted adults or peers they can talk to about a risky online encounter.
Teach respectful communication and how their words and actions can affect others.
Use online safety tools. Use the Safe Search option on browsers, parental controls on Facebook, and tools to keep them safe on different social media accounts they may use such as Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Ensure your child’s devices have the latest software updates and anti-virus programs, and the privacy settings are set on high. Remind your kids to cover the camera on the computer when they aren’t actively using it.
If you are concerned about your child’s health and safety online, talk to your healthcare practitioner or a licensed professional counselor for guidance.