Today, it is essential to educate the youth of this planet about safe and healthy Internet habits. Our children are growing up in a world where the Internet is a basic convenience for them, on an equal footing with television, books, and movies. They don’t see the online world as a new technology like some of us: for kids, it always existed. Therefore, they do not approach your interaction online with the caution that we may. They only see a screen that reacts to their button presses, innocently ignoring the invisible risks at stake.
That doesn’t mean we should scare them. We don’t want to cause an anxiety trigger every time they log in. Today’s children will use the Internet for their entire lives. And as parents, we want them to confidently navigate the ways of the digital world and be empowered to protect themselves.
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Let’s talk with young people about the following 8 safety tips:
- Avoid posting any personal information online. This includes your full name, address, email address, and phone number.
- Learn where the privacy settings are on each website you use and adjust them to their highest settings. Always practice doing this.
- Remember that everything you post online lives there forever, so think twice before uploading photos and videos of yourself (or those of family or friends), or posting comments that you may later regret.
- Keep your passwords secret from everyone except your parents. If someone asks for your passwords online, definitely don’t give them up and tell your parents right away.
- Remember that not everyone is who they say they are online. It is too easy to pretend that you are someone else. For that reason, avoid befriending strangers online and never make plans to meet someone you don’t know.
- Respect other people’s points of view. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, including you. Always feel free to say what you think, but do so without being rude. Flame wars can quickly spiral out of control.
- If you see or hear something online that makes you uncomfortable, stop interacting with the app or website and immediately speak to a trusted adult.
- Learn the importance of using an antivirus. The threats digital are in a single click, download, web site, or email and the best way to avoid being attacked is to have the shield of antivirus.
We suggest these topics as ongoing conversations with your children. Monitor their digital life as you check in on their school days and other aspects of their lives. Show them that this is an area of great concern, but that it can be easily managed with proper online habits, smart choices, and good communication.