When it comes to keeping kids safe online, no tactic or monitoring app is better than having a healthy and open dialog with students about social media safety. It can be difficult for students to open up about their online life, but as parents it’s important that we encourage discussion from an early age. With social media moving so fast, parents can sometimes struggle to keep up in the conversation.
So, we asked 8 experts to share their best talking points, resources, and strategies parents can use to promote having a healthy dialog with their children.
- Ask questions and use yourself as an example Andrea Corrales, Arc, @ArcExperience
When talking about digital safety, lecturing your student or child will immediately shut them down, especially if talking to older and more tech-savvy teens. See teachable moments as a way to ask questions and have a conversation. You can do this by using yourself as an example and speaking in “I” statements instead of telling them directly what they should or shouldn’t do. For example:
- Bad: “You shouldn’t post negative things about other people online.”
- Better: “I think it’s important to remember how negativity affects people online.” Or “How would you feel if someone posted something negative about you online?”
Here are some tips parents should follow when protecting their child from online dangers and digital safety.
- Become involved in your child’s life, interests, and activities – both online and offline.
- Be persistent in warning their children about dangerous and inappropriate sites.
- Protective filters and browsers should be in place, helping to block your child from accessing these sites.
- Set up clear guidelines for all online use with the child, and post these near a computer as a consistent reminder.
- Closely monitor your child’s online actions, as well as his cell phone for any disturbing messages, texts, and pictures. And let him know you will be doing so.
- Teach your child not to believe everything that comes across the computer screen or online device.
- Teach your child to bring to your attention any site or contact that might be suspicious in nature.
- Ensure that you have access to your child’s online activities, so you can monitor what the child’s online activities.
- Keep credit card details somewhere safe where children can’t access them, and make sure not to save credit card details online. Make sure that ‘click to buy’ options are not activated.
- Teach your child about the realities and dangers of child predators who prowl the internet, looking for children as their next victims.
Julia Cook, Author, @JuliaCookOnline Technology is a beautiful thing…but me must teach our children to manage it wisely so that it can add to their lives. Here are a few tips for guiding our children towards creating a productive and healthy digital footprint:
- Spend time with your children by getting online and navigating the internet with them. This can help promote a better understanding and respect for technology.
- Monitor online access. Place your household computer in a central location and limit unsupervised online access. Kids who have unlimited access online behind closed doors can get into trouble because technology doesn’t play fair.
- Get in the habit of having all devices (video games, tablets, computers, phones) charge overnight in the master bedroom so that they can’t keep you and your family awake at night. If your child uses his/her phone for an alarm clock, replace it with an inexpensive digital alarm clock.
- Never post personal information such as your address, passwords, bank account numbers, or home phone number online or your social networking sites.
- Never meet in person with anyone that you first met on the internet. If someone asks to meet with you, tell your parents or guardian.
The average person has over 30 online accounts. It is important that students understand that they need to differentiate passwords between these accounts to keep them secure.
If one of your student’s online accounts is compromised, a hacker can use that same password to access your student’s other accounts. Students can build secure passwords using the passphrase system. Challenge them to think of their favorite book, movie, or quote and grab the first letter of each word in the title. Then, use a number that isn’t their birthdate along with a special character. Using this method of creating passwords will help students remember their passwords and protect their online accounts.
Just as we have “stranger danger” in life, so too should we practice online “stranger danger.”
Students should never give out their personal information, such as address, name, phone numbers, school name, passwords or selfies online, even to those they consider “online friends.” The internet and social media are not to be used to spread gossip or bully anyone.
Most schools make security tools and software available to students to protect themselves, their personal information and their computer/device from viruses, spyware, spam, ransomware and other malware. Students need to understand how to use these tools and why they’re important.
Students guide their own online experiences and should treat it like they do the real world. If something online makes them uncomfortable, they don’t have to respond, they can delete or tell a teacher or parent.
Students should never, under any circumstances ever meet in person, a person they met online.
Students should change their passwords regularly, never share them with anybody, and avoid using something that might be easy to figure out.
Free media can make your computer and its network vulnerable to a host of malware and viruses. Students should not download anything they are not sure of.
Students should refrain from storing credit card or bank account payment information online.
Warn students about oversharing personal information on social media. Vacation pictures just telegraph to thieves that their house is empty!
If you post a picture of your car, blur the license plate. Someone with access to the right tools can use the license plate number to find where you live, your name, and a host of other information that strangers shouldn’t have.
Impress upon students that when entering login information on any website, ensure the website is preceded by “HTTPS.” HTTPS encryption scrambles your login information and helps prevent identity theft.
The biggest tip I feel young people need to know is that it is impossible to know whether the person you are chatting with online is actually who they say they are. (Someone who claims to be a 16 year-old girl can easily be a male predator or trafficker.) Never make plans to meet someone you meet online by yourself.
Only make friends online with people you know in real life. Do not meet anybody in real life, that you met online. Before you post anything, think: What will happen if my worst enemy gets this info? Because after you post: a) the information will stay online forever and b) it will not be safe.
Also, use a different password for each service.
Jessica Parnell, Bridgeway Academy, @BridgewayVoice
Students engrossed with their in-hand technologies are prime targets for education. Yet education systems focus on keeping pace with them. Unfortunately with this expanding territory of online learning, comes the dangers of misinformation, predators, and privacy invasion. A new widely researched strategy that further prevents these risks is using a trusted blended learning approach, much like Bridgeway’s Elementary Blended Learning Program. Parents can rest assured because Blended Learning sets helpful guardrails for students using technology by incorporating traditional resources such as books and hands-on materials, while simultaneously empowering students to utilize online tools within a safe space.