Talking to Your Kids About Internet Safety
We aren’t crazy, of course. We know there are shady characters out there with bad things in mind, and we know they’re online like everybody else. Internet safety is an important thing, and it’s important for you to talk to your kids about it, just like it’s important to talk to your kids about talking to strangers at the playground and staying safe while they ride their bikes around town.
You don’t want your kids scared to go to the playground or get on their bike, you just want them to know how to keep themselves safe. When you approach or talk about to your kids about Internet safety with the same attitude, you can keep them safe online without the fear tactics that might prevent some great entertainment and educational experiences.
When to Start Talking
Start talking to your kids about Internet safety as soon as it becomes relevant, and give them the information they need based on their age and their risk of exposure. A toddler who enjoys playing a game online after you get them set up probably can’t do much in terms of divulging sensitive information, so you might just teach them what keys are good to press and which ones to avoid and leave it at that.
When your kids are able to read and write (or type) and start navigating the web for themselves, it’s time for a lengthier and more involved discussion. Again, think of it like talking to your kids about riding their bike somewhere unaccompanied—at the age they’re ready to do it, they’re ready to have a talk about some of the risks and how to avoid them.
What to Say
Start out by explaining that some websites are designed to harm computers, and therefore everyone needs to be careful about what they visit and where they click. Younger kids probably won’t even ask about the kind of harm that can be caused or why malicious sites would be designed, and you don’t need to provide the detail if they don’t ask.
As kids approach adolescence and can carry out more complex thinking, a chat about identity theft, online predators, sites and viruses that can compromise personal information, and other specific dangers will be more meaningful.
Remember, you don’t want your kids scared to go online anymore than you want them scared to explore the world beyond your door. Approach your Internet safety talks as just another learning opportunity: give them the information they need, answer any questions they have, and follow through with some monitoring and some questions of your own to make sure they’ve understood. Kids are used to rules, and the better they understand the point of the rules the happier they’ll be to follow them. Approach Internet safety with the right attitude, and neither you nor your kids will need to worry about it.
Let’s keep all kids safe! Don’t forget to like and share this article with your friends and family.