8 Internet Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe Online

Written By Jennifer Leonard

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Keeping kids safe online can feel like a daunting task – especially when 95% of teens have access to a smartphone and go online frequently. For parents, it’s important to guide kids to stay safe online, but where should you begin? If you’re unsure of how to start this conversation at home, try these internet safety tips to get the ball rolling.

Teaching kids to stay safe online isn’t an easy thing to do, but by using these internet safety tips and a conversation starter, you can open the dialogue with your children and set expectations for their internet use. Reiterate to your kids that these guidelines are meant to keep them safe and enhance their online experience, so they can fully enjoy their time spent using apps, streaming movies or connecting with friends.

Download our full internet safety guide here: Online Safety 101: Online Predators and Grooming

Why Internet Safety is Important for Kids

By speaking openly with kids about the dangers of social media, sexting, and online predators, parents can better prepare children for the dangers of online activity. Kids need to know that everything put online can be accessed by others, even when only shared with people they know.

It’s easy for a picture or video to be saved and shared, creating an opportunity for predators and cyberbullies to take advantage of the situation. Setting strict security parameters and keeping cell phones and personal computers in a communal area are good ways to monitor online activity.

Use these 8 internet safety tips to help keep your kids safe online:

  1. Keep Open Communication
    While it can be difficult for parents to talk to their kids about online predators and sexual exploitation, it’s essential to keeping them safe. Before a child is allowed to have any sort of social media account, parents and caregivers should be speaking openly about the dangers of online predators and cyberbullying. Let them know they can talk to you about anything on their mind without fear of overreaction, judgement or punishment.
  2. Set Privacy and Security Settings
    For minors especially, it is essential to have security settings in place. Parents should also monitor their child’s social media activity by becoming “friends” or following them on various social media accounts and being present while kids are using social media in the house. Using a Family Media Contract, is a great way to create healthy boundaries for your family.
  3. Keep Phones & Computers in Communal Areas
    The FBI suggests keeping all cell phones and personal computers in a communal location. Special Agent John Letterhos, who works with the Child Exploitation Task Force in Charlotte, NC, told reporters that he’s noticed video and photos in “sextortion” cases were almost always taken inside the bedroom. By requiring kids to use their devices in the living room or other communal locations, it helps prevent this kind of dangerous activity.
  4. Establish a Code Word
    Having a code word is especially important, should your child find herself in a dangerous situation. Whether it be when with friends, or out playing Pokémon, set a code word with your child when you’re going over the rules of engagement. This way your child can let you know that they’re in danger, without alerting the person or people they’re with. Choose a word or phrase that is common enough to remember, but not too generic.
  5. Turn Location Services OFF
    This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s an important step that can be easily overlooked. Whenever possible, make sure the location services on your child’s phone or individual apps are disabled.
  6. Keep Live Streaming in Check
    In the public realm of live streaming, choosing a screen name that hides your kids’ identities is a must. Keep it generic and think about making the profile picture for your child’s account generic as well. Additionally, in the live streaming space, it is important for parents to jump onto their kids live broadcasts to keep things in check by passively watching.
  7. Use Digital Tools
    There are helpful tools, like Net Nanny, available to parents to help them keep track of your child’s location, block popular apps on their device and schedule screen time. Also check out parenting resources online that can educate you on new apps and trends in social media.
  8. Follow the Rules
    Social networking sites require a minimum age for use. These guidelines are meant to keep your kids safe. Remember, most popular sites and apps start at age 13, but some aren’t recommended for users under 17 or 18.

Take the Internet Safety Quiz

Not sure if your family is savvy about safe internet use? Check their safety knowledge with the following questions to see if they are safety superstars or in need of online safety training wheels.

I never talk to friends online that I haven’t already met in real life.

True or False

I keep my passwords private – only sharing them with mom & dad.

True or False

My phone/tablet/laptop is password protected.

True or False

My social media/gaming accounts do not have my personal photo publicly displayed.

True or False

I feel comfortable telling my parent/older sibling/trusted adult if I see something unsafe or scary online.

True or False

I never share personal details about my life online.

True or False

I never share my location online, either with geo-location or by checking-in.

True or False

I never post photos of myself and/or friends in private situations.

True or False

I never keep my phone in bed or nearby my bed all night.

True or False

My social media/gaming profiles are private and only approved friends can view them.

True or False

How Internet Safety Savvy are Your Kids?

If your kids answered with mostly “True”, your kids are safety superstars! They are aware of the common pitfalls and safety issues that can occur online. You’ll still want to keep a close eye on new social media trends and stay on top of the latest apps that teens are using.

If your kids answered with mostly “False”, your kids need a little guidance to determine how to stay safe online. Use this quiz as a jumping off point to set rules in your house for safe internet use. Download our Internet Safety Checklist to help.

If your kids answered with a mixture of “True” and “False” answers, then take this opportunity to talk about any vulnerabilities they may have in their internet use. This could be a good opportunity to discuss what your expectations of screen time are and update or institute your Social Media Contract.

About Jennifer Leonard

Jennifer Leonard is the Social Media Director for Zift. She is passionate about connecting with people – in person and via social media. She spends her days writing, tweeting, pinning and using as many hashtags she possibly can. #Goals 

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Instant Search Reports, Alerts for App Usage, & Blocking of Inappropriate Content.

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