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Internet Safety for Kids

Threats to children’s internet safety include invasions of privacy, cyberbullying, sexting and harassment. Options to protect your children include parental controls, apps and tracking software. But the most effective way to keep your kids safe is to talk with them about online risks, how to avoid them and how they can come to you when something goes wrong.



Internet safety for kids depends on parents being aware of online risks and understanding how to help their children and teens avoid them. Almost every American child and teen has access to the internet. They socialize in online games or on smartphones just as they would on a playground. They live largely in a digital community. But like any community, there are risks and dangers. Parents are the best suited to monitor kids’ online activity. They are also the most trusted adults most kids will turn to if they experience online dangers. Understanding what your children or teens do online is vital to protecting them from digital threats.


Explaining Internet Safety to Your Kids

Teaching your children about the online risks they may face and how to avoid or report threats is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure their safety online. But first, you have to understand those risks for yourself. This means keeping up-to-date on the latest technologies, apps and social media trends. It can be challenging, but it better prepares you to talk to your kids about what to expect online.


How to Set Rules

Setting clearly defined rules and explaining the reason for each rule and the hazard it protects against can help your child understand potential risks. Rules for your child should aim to protect online privacy, safety and personal information.


You may even ask your child or teen to sign an online safety contract. The contract can be a chance to teach your kid about online risks and how to respond to them. Contracts can also jumpstart a conversation about the boundaries you want to set for the way in which your child uses the internet.

Keep the conversation open and ongoing as your child gets older with the promise of more rights and responsibilities as he or she grows.


Monitoring, Tracking and Limiting Your Child’s Online Activity

Making computer time part of family time gives parents the chance to teach children safe internet habits. You can track the websites your kids visit online by checking their browsing history. Browsers keep a list of sites that have been visited. Go to the browser on their computer or phone and click on “History” to see the list of sites that have been visited.

Be aware that your kids may delete their browser history. If that happens, it may be a sign they have visited a site they shouldn’t have. This should be part of your discussion when you set out rules with your child. New apps, such as iPhone’s Screen Time, allow you to set time limits on how long your child or teen may access a specific app each day.


Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Children Online

You can take an active role in protecting your kids from online risks. Much of it is monitoring how they use the internet and how they access it. Some of it can be as simple as helping them set up their online access. When you give your child a smartphone or tablet for the first time, use it as a teaching opportunity. Show your child how to set up strong passwords and set new rules for who can and can’t download apps. You may want to limit that to yourself until your child is older.


For more information on internet, cell phone, and social media safety for children visit https://www.consumernotice.org/data-protection/internet-safety-for-kids/.

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