Kids online safety - best practices & where to begin

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Just starting to explore online safety for your children? Check out some of the suggestions below to help you decide where to begin. 

  1. Getting on the same page as your partner or co-parent is an important place to start. Discuss with the other decision-makers in your home about what your shared philosophy around online safety is. Make sure you’re on the same page before bringing it up with your kids. 
  2. Encourage open conversation with your children. Creating trust, transparency, and a feeling of safety will make it easier for your child to come to you—whether they have questions or are in a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. 
  3. Breaks and balances are great ways to help your family stay connected and make time away from devices or the internet. Decide what the right balance is for your family. Consider a family board game night instead of video games. Take a picnic to the park instead of ordering in. Check out your local theater instead of streaming a movie at home. You get the idea!
  4. Co-playing or co-viewing are ways to help you get a clear idea of how your kids spend their time online. Co-playing or co-viewing means sitting with your child and playing the game they are, or watching the videos they’re watching. These strategies can help create trust, encourage more conversation, and even help you find shared interests with your child. 
  5. Family device and internet agreements are great mechanisms for getting on the same page with your child before allowing them to use the internet or get their own phone. Figure out what your family’s rules might be, and talk about them with your kids. Explain why you have set these rules, and ask them what they think. You can even adjust some of the rules based on their feedback to encourage a trusting relationship about online safety. 
  6. Talk about online behavior and what being a good person online looks like. Sometimes, being behind a screen, phone, or game controller results in different behavior than what we’d do in real life. Talk to your kids about respect, kindness, and tolerance in online forums. 
  7. Address personal information and what that means. Any information a stranger could use to identify you is personal and shouldn’t be shared, like your name, address, birthday, school, Social Security number, and more. 
  8. Addressing the scary stuff might be right for your family, too. It’s no secret that there are criminals online—from cyberbullies and predators to violent, sexual, and inappropriate content. Decide if you want to proactively talk about this with your children. 
  9. Each family is different, and it’s important to respect that some children will have different rules and norms when it comes to digital behavior. Talk as a family about why the rules and boundaries you’ve set are the right ones for your family. 

Be a role model for your children. They are always watching you. Remember to set a good example for them!

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