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15 Tips to Help Protect Children from Dangers Lurking Online

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Jen Evans, CentraCare Digital Product Communications Manager

Back to school often means more internet time for kids of all ages. The internet can be a wonderful resource, but it also presents various risks to children’s safety and well-being. Here are 15 steps you can take to help protect children online:

  1. Open Communication: Start by having open and honest conversations with your children about the potential dangers online. Encourage them to come to you if they encounter anything that makes them uncomfortable.
  2. Educate Them About Online Risks: Teach children about the potential dangers of sharing personal information, interacting with strangers, and the consequences of inappropriate content. The FBI created an informative website that teaches adults how to protect their children from sexual exploitation.
  3. Set Clear Guidelines: Establish rules and guidelines for internet use. This could include the amount of time they’re allowed to spend online, what websites or apps they can access, and what kind of content is appropriate.
  4. Use Parental Controls: Many devices and platforms offer parental control settings that allow you to restrict access to certain websites, apps or content. Use these controls to create a safer online environment for your children.
  5. Supervise Online Activity: For younger children, consider keeping their computer or device in a shared space where you can easily monitor their online activity.
  6. Teach Privacy Settings: Show your children how to set strong passwords and privacy settings on their accounts and devices.
  7. Teach Critical Thinking: Help children develop critical thinking skills so they can identify potential scams, fake news and unsafe websites.
  8. Encourage Responsible Behavior: Teach your children to be respectful and responsible online users. This includes not engaging in cyberbullying, not sharing hurtful content and treating others with kindness.
  9. Monitor Social Media: If your children are using social media, make sure to follow or be friends with them on those platforms, so you can see what they’re posting and who they’re interacting with.
  10. Regularly Check Devices: Periodically review your children’s device history and browser history to ensure they are using the internet responsibly.
  11. Online Relationships: Warn children about the risks of forming online relationships with people they don’t know in real life. Help them understand that not everyone online may have good intentions.
  12. Report and Block: Teach children how to report and block users or content that is inappropriate or makes them uncomfortable.
  13. Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest online trends, apps and platforms, so you can better understand the digital landscape your children are navigating.
  14. Model Good Behavior: Children often learn by example. Demonstrate good online behavior by respecting others’ privacy, being kind and using technology responsibly.
  15. Encourage Offline Activities: Promote a balance between online and offline activities. Encourage hobbies, sports and spending time with friends in person.

Remember that while these steps can help mitigate risks, no approach is foolproof. The best protection comes from maintaining a strong, trusting relationship with your children and staying engaged in their online activities.