Cyber safety is an important parent-child discussion to revisit frequently with your child, from elementary school through high school. Experts warn that children are most vulnerable to online dangers while in their own home. While many potential dangers are filtered so students can't access them at schools, parents sometimes forget that children may have direct access to inappropriate sites at home.
Here are some things to review with your child or teen:
While the Internet is an incredible resource with countless educational opportunities, there are also frightening dangers that kids can get involved in or be exposed to online. Pornography is often just a click away, and kids are curious. Social Networking sites like MySpace and Facebook for teens (Webkinz and Club Penguin for younger students) are a popular way to connect with friends and meet new people, but these sites are mostly unsupervised and may push limits and test boundaries. Watch Social Networking in Plain English to understand how Social Networks operate. Videos on YouTube and similar sites with live web cams allow kids to be creative and share all sorts of content, some of which may be inappropriate or unwise to publish.
Cyberbullying (threatening or harassing another individual through technology), is a growing concern for today's youth. It takes many forms, such as forwarding a private email, photo, or text message for others to see, starting a rumor, or sending a threatening or aggressive message, often anonymously. Talk with your child about not partaking in this behavior, and encourage her/him to report it to an adult. Some videos online to help kids understand this include Ad Council Commercials Talent Show (Elementary and Middle School Students) or Kitchen (High School Students), as well as NetSmartz.org's videos on Broken Friendship (Secondary Students) or You Can't Take It Back (Secondary Students). ThatsNotCool.com is a good resource about textual harassment, as well as information for parents from a Today Show segment. There are many other helpful resources for parents, such as Cyberbully.org and Connect with Kids ' Parent Video on Cyberbullying .
What you can do to keep your child safe online:
More helpful websites with Internet safety tips for parents: