How to Talk to Your Kids About Online Safety
The internet is part of your kid's everyday life as early as preschool, which can produce anxiety in parents. That's because news stories of online predators preying on vulnerable kids to get them to disclose too much personal information are common. Some even convince children or teens to meet them offline. Online bullying is another reason for anxiety.
On the other hand, the internet can be an extremely useful tool to help kids learn and make age-appropriate social connections. Parents should be involved with online safety from the very beginning and discuss proper use as early as possible. It’s also important to balance online activities with physical activities to keep your child healthy.
Avoid Lecturing Your Child
Try to make your discussion about online safety a two-way conversation and not something your child will view as a lecture. One good way to start a conversation is to ask open-ended questions. For example, you might ask a child in early elementary school what he or she thinks the internet is and what people do on it. The answer to this question will tell you how in-depth you need to go with your initial conversation.
Some Topics of Conversation to Cover
Teaching your child to identify and respond to online harassment or other forms of cyberbullying is essential. This can take the form of posting repeated derogatory messages about someone on their social media accounts, unwanted text messages, emails or harassing someone in an online forum. Let your child know that he or she should inform you of such behavior right away and that you will resolve it.
Stress to your child that being online makes it easy for people to pretend they are someone else. No matter how friendly someone might appear, make it clear that your son or daughter should never share their full name, your name, address, age or even the city and state where you live. Depending on your kid’s age and level of sensitivity, you might consider sharing a news story of another child who got into trouble with an online predator.
Another thing to impress upon kids and teens is that the internet is forever. Even if they post something and later delete it, someone could have already gotten a screenshot. Make sure they understand how important it is to think about what they want to share online carefully before posting in haste. Some other subjects you might want to touch on include sexting and identify theft.
Your Trusted Dental Provider
Wright Pediatric Dentistry understands the challenge of keeping kids and teens safe online and teaching them who to trust. Families know they can trust our dental team to have their child’s best interests at heart when it comes to their oral health. If you haven’t visited in more than six months, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.