Parents need to talk to their kids from a young age about internet safety and teach them how to be safe online. Parents need to lay it all out: the good, the bad and the rules about online use.
The internet is an amazing place to play, learn, be entertained and connect with other people. It can be used in many great ways to share positive and good information to benefit people. Some of these include:
– Writing a text to mom or dad to let them know you’re home.
– Researching content for school projects
– Announcing events by email to a lot of people like fundraisers or a soccer practice time
– Chatting with school friends and teachers about homework assignments
– Playing educational or entertaining games with people you know.
The internet can also be a dangerous place and parents should talk to their kids about the risks. Here are some things parents should tell their children.
You never remain anonymous on the internet.
Others in cyber space may see photos, images and messages you post online. It is easy for others to tag photos and share comments posted by you without asking permission. You have very little control over who can see what you post. Even if the person posting the image does not tag you, others can tag photos of you and add your name to identify you.
Images and messages that you post are permanent.
Your tweets, Facebook wall and other posts and images can never be fully erased. Even if you use a fake name, you leave a “digital footprint” that people can use to find you. In fact, it takes just a few minutes for a predator to find out your real name, where you live, who your parents and siblings are, where you go to school and what your interests and hobbies are. Predators will use this information to get you to trust them and become friends online, without you ever knowing their true identity.
Images and messages can be used to threaten, embarrass, harm or find people.
Images and messages can portray you in a positive light but they can also portray you in a negative light. Images can be digitally altered to misrepresent the truth about somebody or something. People can make you do something against your will by threatening to post things that are harmful, damaging or embarrassing to you. Images and messages can give criminals information they need to carry out their crimes.
Downloading images, links, software and messages can cause computer viruses or your steal information.
Computer viruses and spyware can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards or audio and video files. They can be used to corrupt data on your computer or cell phone or steal your personal and private information like passwords.
Parents need to tell their children that they will be held responsible for anything that they write or post online. Sharing anything harmful, mean, personal or private about another person can ruin reputations and get people into trouble, including your children. Here are some rules to establish with your kids.
1. Do not share any material you are unwilling to show parents or teachers, like inappropriate language or gestures. Always use good judgment.
2. Do not share any personal information like your age, address, school, photos of your Home Alone certificate, when you are away on vacation. Always check with your parents/guardians before sending photographs of yourself or family.
3. Do not post or write anything mean, embarrassing or harmful about another person. Do not ruin anyone’s reputation. This is cyber-bullying. Do not comment on something that someone else said. This makes you a bully too! If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online.
4. Involve a parent, teacher or other trusted adult if you find something inappropriate online or if you think someone is being bullied online. Do block people or websites that post inappropriate things.
5. Only share passwords with parents/guardians. Never share passwords with friends.
6. Do not download and post something that you did not create yourself. It is wrong to copy or use someone else’s stuff and say you that you did it. You must get permission or give credit to the person who created it. This is the law.
7. Set your privacy settings on social media platforms. Involve your parents/guardians or trusted adult to ensure this is done properly.