Teaching Cyber Safety
The steps that we take to ensure that our kids are safe and act responsibly in today’s digital world will vary dramatically depending on how old they are, but it’s safe to say that sooner or later technology will impact every child’s life. Although schools are now adding classes like Digital Literacy, much of this formal tuition comes in the teen years and well after kids have become used to interacting with connected devices on a daily basis.
As with so many other areas of our kids’ lives, it’s left to the parents to help with those first all-important steps, as they navigate the Internet, use mobile devices, and experiment with all the other trappings of their tech-filled worlds.
But who’s teaching the teachers? For many parents, helping our kids with technology can seem like a daunting task. There is so much to learn and the technology kids are using seems to change on a daily basis. Although keeping up with everything presents an enormous challenge, it’s one that we are virtually compelled to take on. Here are some tips to help get us started:
Get in the game!
Make an effort to understand the basics of the technology that your kids will be using. While we may be doing a fantastic job in all other aspects of our parenting, if we don’t understand today’s technology, we cannot be part of their ever-expanding digital lives. It’s not difficult to grasp some fundamentals and get up-to-speed. Plus, it’s fun and educational – that’s why our kids love it so much!
Open a dialogue
Talk to your kids about technology and about Internet safety in particular. Agree on a set of rules for using the computer and mobile devices. Surf the Web together and stay involved. Your kids’ online activity will increase and become more complex as they get older and technology continues to evolve. Keep the conversation going.
Know what technology your kids use and how they use it. What games do they play? Which web sites do they visit? Who do they communicate with? For young children, give them an agreed set of rules.
Help your child understand inappropriate behavior
Talk to your child about different types of inappropriate behavior, whether it’s violent video games, cyber-bullying, online predators, or sexting. Instruct them to tell you or another adult if they come across such behavior, and teach them never to respond to inappropriate texts or e-mails.
Never give out personal information
Explain to your kids that they must never give out personal information over the Internet. Names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, photos, etc. – everything should be jealously guarded. Although social networking sites ask for and encourage sharing this information, your kids should know that protecting their online identities should be one of their top priorities.
Use Internet filtering or monitoring software. You don’t have to check on what your child is doing every day but the fact that you can – and they know you can – helps set the right tone for responsible behavior.
Don’t click on links or open unknown files
Teach your kids about malware and explain how clicking on links or opening unknown files are the easiest ways to pick up a virus.
Talk to other parents
Talk to other parents about online safety and your children’s technology experiences. Form a network with other concerned parents.
Visit Verizon’s Online Safety Center to find out more.
I have been compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.