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5 Ways to Help Kids Stay Safe Online

Today millions of kids are on online (20 million 8-12 year-olds and 21.5 teens 13-17 according to a Teensafe sponsored information sheet.) And a large number of them have Facebook accounts or access to social media through their mobile devices. It is a whole new way of communicating for a younger generation that is growing up in a connected world.

Unfortunately not all those online interactions are positive ones. Cyberbulling is becoming an increasing problem for both kids and teens. Among those surveyed, 25% admit to being bullied and 62% acknowledge they have witnessed cyberbullying. But over 90% of young users won’t tell their parents or a trusted adult about it. Teens also admit to hiding other online activities from their parents including pirating movies or music (31%), cheating on a test using a mobile phone (22%), hacking into someone else’s social media account (15%), and meeting people in-person after meeting online (12%).

Unfortunately teens are finding ways of hiding their online activity from their parents by doing things like clearing their browser history, closing or minimizing browers, creating duplicate or fake social profiles, using a computer their parents won’t check, manipulating privacy setting, disabling parental controls, using private or invisible browsing modes and hiding or deleting messages. And over 64% of those teens surveyed are confident they can hide their online activities from their parents.

While many parents are taking measures to install parental controls, know their teens’ passwords and monitor their teens’ activities, there are more things they can do to help their children and teens navigate the Internet and social media.

1. Talk to your children about cyberbullying, privacy issues and other risky online behaviors that may be jeopardizing them without their knowledge. Stress the importance of trust in your relationship.

2. Create a contract with your child outlining the rules of using a cell phone or social media.

3. Limit the websites and information your young children can access online and slowly give them more access as they develop the ability to safely and wisely navigate the Web.

4. Limit the amount of time they spend online. Encourage other activities and interests.

5. Don’t overreact when children come to you with online issues. Be calm and help your child deal with the issues at hand.

As parents we need to recognize that electronic devices are here to stay. Our role is to help our children safely use them as they navigate the world of cyberspace.

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