When summer comes to an end, you and your tween are likely gathering all the right school supplies — including tech gear like tablets and cellphones. In the rush to begin school preparations, don’t forget to share online safety tips with your tween. As you hand over a device, consider these tips to help your child stay safe online when away from home.
What you post on the internet, stays online forever
Remind your tween that social media posts and images shared online can have consequences offline. Once posted, messages can’t be taken back. Even if the message is deleted, it may still exist on other people’s computers and circulate online. Encourage your child to be mindful of the language, pictures and videos that get posted.
Never talk to strangers online
Just as you want to know your child’s offline friends, it’s a good idea to know online “friends.” Learn what social media websites your child is using. Review online contacts to be sure they are people the youth knows offline. This strategy could prevent your child from being exposed to strangers or suspicious activities.
Keep personal information private
Be sure to talk about the importance of online privacy. Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child’s social media profiles. Remind your tween to protect personal information such as a Social Security number, home address, full name, phone number and account passwords.
Those kinds of personal details shouldn’t be shared with anyone, including close friends. Sometimes privacy settings get reset to default settings during program updates, so check profiles often. In addition, many apps, networks and devices have geotagging features which broadcast location. This information could lead a stranger to your child; check that these features are not enabled on your child’s mobile phone or tablet.
Install web-filtering software to better protect your child from online threats like inappropriate sites, phishing scams or malware. The software is intended to limit your child’s access to certain sites, words and images. You can also take advantage of child-safe search browsers designed to protect children online.
Also, consider monitoring solutions for mobile devices which can also set time restraints on how long your child gets access to screen time. This can help balance online and offline activities.
Just as you take steps to protect yourself online, be sure to guide your child toward being a good digital citizen and always staying safe online.