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5 tips for online safety

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Denise Lenarz,MD

You teach your children not to open the door to strangers or to admit that they are home alone when answering the phone, but are you teaching them to be safe online?

In the summer, your kids probably spend more time on their devices than usual. Whether used for fun or to learn, the internet is a great tool. But it can be dangerous. Go over these five online safety tips with your kids:

  1. Limit information. Your kids should never post personal information online such as full names, birthdays, home address or phone numbers.
  2. Choose wisely. The internet is forever. Once your kids share a post, picture or video, it can never be permanently deleted. Teach them to be thoughtful and cautious about what they post and share online.
  3. Don’t talk to strangers. If your kids don’t personally know someone, they should not be talking to that person online. Predators create fake profiles to hide their identities. Check your children’s privacy settings to make sure strangers can’t see their profiles. Sometimes privacy settings are reset to default settings during program updates, so be vigilant.
  4. Use stealth mode. Watch out for apps, networks and devices that have geo-tagging features to broadcast locations. Make sure these features are turned off so predators cannot locate your children.
  5. Guard passwords. If your children are younger, talk to them about not sharing their passwords with anyone other than their parents. For older kids, show them how to create strong passwords.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting “screen time” to two hours a day for children older than 2.

For more ideas, read the Department of Homeland Security’s “Chatting with Kids about Being Online.”