Five Ways to Protect Kids Online

There is more good on the Internet than bad. It just takes some precautions to avoid any pitfalls.

OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you and your family be safe, secure and responsible online. Social media is growing and evolving with various social networking sites, chat rooms, virtual worlds and blogs.  It is important that teens and tweens know how to socialize online. Parents can help their kids learn how to navigate these spaces safely by following OnGuardOnline recommend ways to protect kids online.

Here are some of the recommended ways to protect your kids online. You can find more at OnGuardonline.

Remind Kids That Online Actions Have Consequences – Even if the privacy settings are high, the words kids write and the images they post online have consequences offline. Kids should post only what they’re comfortable with others reading and seeing. You should try to encourage your child to think before he writes online or posts images and videos online. Is the language appropriate? Does he feel comfortable with the images he is posting? Keep in mind, college admissions officers, coaches, teachers, employers and the police may be able view your child’s posts.

Tell Kids to Limit What They Share – Deleting information from a social network site can still be floating around the Internet. You have hardly any control over older versions that may exist on other people’s computer. That information may circulate online, so keep your kids at a limit.

Encourage Online Manners — Politeness can go a long way. Encourage your kids to be polite offline and talk to them about being courteous online. The same goes for texting. People on the receiving end appreciate courtesies like “pls” and “ty” (for please and thank you), which are common text terms.

Limit Access to Your Kids’ Profiles – It’s important for kids to understand that some information should remain private. Talk to your kids about why they need to keep some things private, such as their Social Security number, street address, phone number and family financial information. Explain to them why they should not disclose any private information about their family and friends.

Talk to Kids About What They’re Doing Online – This is the most important way to protect your kids online. Find out about the social networking sites your kids use. That way, you will understand their online activities and some of their friend’s online activities.

Don’t alarm your kids, but look for signs of risky online behavior. OnGuardOnline recommends that you search the social sites they use to see what information they’re posting. Are they pretending to be someone else? Try searching by their name, nickname, school, hobbies, grade or community. If you see something questionable or a red flag, you need to think before you react. It’s a good idea to talk with your kid when he or she is not tired or hungry, and you both can give the situation your full attention.

More ideas to protect kids online are available at OnGuardOnline, and I am sure you can think of some ways to protect your kids online. In the meantime, I hope this list was helpful. There is more good on the Internet than bad. It just takes some precautions to avoid any pitfalls.