Nearly 90% of Americans avail themselves of the internet. Odds are your children are among them. Inversion Cheer Athletics Toledo knows how nerve-wracking it can be trying to keep your children safe online can be but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
First, begin talking about online safety with your children while they’re young, preferably while they’re still young enough that they require your attention while they surf the internet. Make sure they know that all the rules that apply at the park also apply to the virtual world as well.
- Just as you don’t tell strangers at the park where you live, don’t tell strangers online where you live.
- Just as you wouldn’t accept a gift from a stranger at the park, don’t click on links forwarded by people you don’t know.
- Just as you would tell your parents if someone did or said something at the park that made you scared or uncomfortable, tell your parents when someone online does the same thing.
These three rules keep kids safe at the park and they keep kids safe online.
There are some more internet specific rules that parents need to make sure their kids learn and follow. The most important of which is to never give out any sort of personal information, such as:
- Any part of their name
- Phone numbers
- The names of friends or family members
- Home address or where they go to school
- Any pictures or photographs. This includes pictures of their house or pets.
- Where they are currently at.(If your child has a smartphone, check it out and, if necessary, disable it’s GPS app. Hackers can get into phones and use them to track people)
- Their passwords
- Their Social Security Number
- Credit card numbers
Additionally, children should be given guidance so that they develop screen names and email addresses which don’t in anyway reveal their age, gender or location.
Let them know that while it’s fine to make friends over the internet, online friends are meant to stay online. They shouldn’t meet any “virtual” friend in the real world. And they should be especially dubious of any such friends who say otherwise.
Children also need help have their sense of skepticism sharpened. Many hackers and conmen rely on children’s naivety and lack of experience to get valuable information out of them. Impress upon your children that very few people who are really on the up-and-up will ever ask for them for personal information such as their phone number or address. And few legitimate businesses will run contests or organize clubs that ask for such information either.
And no matter how great the promised prize may be, never open, let alone click on any link, emailed by someone you don’t personally know.
Most importantly though, don’t rely on parental control or anti-virus software to keep your children safe. Your kids, to say nothing of other people online, will find ways around it. The single best thing you can do is to keep the lines of communication between yourself and your children open so that when they receive a message that makes them uncomfortable or when they slip-up and give out their phone number, they feel comfortable coming to you.
More information is available at kidshealth.org.