While the internet is a wonderful place for kids to learn, shop, play online games, chat with friends and do homework research, it can also be a very dangerous place for kids. Internet safety for kids is important to prevent cyberbullying, identity theft, sexual predators and others from preying on innocent children. It's important to teach children safe techniques for using the internet and to help them to identify potential dangers.
Kids are frequently over confident. They think they know how to be safe and how to stay safe. Often, they are mistaken. Many kids will share too much information such as the name of their baseball team or their favourite ice cream hangout. An online predator is able to take this information and figure out which town the kids live in and then meet up with the kids nonchalantly.
Internet safety for kids
Kids need to be aware that whenever they connect to the internet danger is lurking. Websites, chat rooms, online games and social networks are all risky if your kids aren't aware of what they're doing. It's important for kids to create an online identity that doesn't reveal their real identity. Some of the ways to do this safely are to create an online name that isn't the real name. It could be a favourite animal, a favourite pastime or a creative name used solely for online purposes. Never ever reveal a true name or location.
Kids need to remember that if someone asks what team they are on, a name of a favourite ice cream shop or hang out etc., that this information, no matter how trivial it may seem, could be valuable information for a stalker or cyberbully. Creating nick names for favourite hang outs or even a baseball team is a great way to avoid this. Keep personal information required on sites very vague. Gender and age are common questions asked on online sites. Kids should set up a persona that doesn't reveal too much in these situations. Many families choose to use a nearby county or a generalized area such as Northeast and a state name rather than reveal the actual city or town they live in.
Cell phone dangers online
It's important to remember that cell phones can also go online and kids should remember to extend these safety precautions to cell phone usage. Texts can easily be forwarded by another person and before you know it, someone has sent the text to an online source and the identity is revealed. When in doubt don't text about something that could potentially be embarrassing or cause undue stress to someone.
Online predators and how to be safe
With internet access so readily available, online predators are having a heyday. One of the most important things about internet safety for kids is to remind kids that if someone is in a chat room and asking anyone about locations or personal information, the kids need to get out of the chat room and let their parents know immediately. Parents should assess the situation and when it's warranted report this to the authorities.
Cyberbullying or harassment
No one should have to put up with bullying or harassment. If kids are being harassed or bullied they need to know that they can go to their parents, teachers, pastors or police. Only when these bullies are confronted can this issue be stopped. Kids need to tell someone each and every time something like this happens to them. Keep a record of the situation with as much detail as possible. Dates, names (or online persona's), and details are all important. Discuss with kids how important it is that they tell you about it and that no matter what, you believe in them.
Safe Use of Social Networks
Social media and social networks bring with them their own set of issues. Kids need to know how to conduct themselves on social networks. While many social networks require the kids to be at least 13 years of age, many kids lie about their age and set accounts up anyway. To make matters worse, many parents allow this trend. There is a reason for an age limit here and parents would be wise to adhere to it. By the age of 13 most kids know well what is right and what is wrong. Furthermore, by age 13 most kids realize that too much information is not necessarily a good thing.
Again, leave out as much personal information as possible when setting up social media sites. Don't reveal exact birth dates. Don't reveal exact location. Consider friending your kids on social network sites and comment on their page or wall regularly. Sexual predators shy away from kids who have parents more involved on their page.
Internet safety for kids is a growing concern and the more we educate our kids the safer they will be. Have you/your child experienced cyberbullying? How did you deal with it?