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What Should I Teach My Child About Safe Online Behavior?

Text: Q&A

As soon as your kids start going online, it's important to explain your expectations for their behavior. With some guidance from you, they can enjoy their time online and mostly avoid things like cyberbullying and inappropriate content. Here are some basics to share with your child:

Communicate with care. Use the right language for your audience. You might write or speak differently to a teacher, compared with a friend.

Keep private things private. Don't share private information, including passwords, your home address, date of birth, your location, or revealing photos.

Respect others and avoid drama. Be courteous and practice disagreeing politely. Try not to interact with trolls or share gossip.

Don't lie, steal, or cheat. Don't try to deceive others. Remember to give credit where credit is due. And, although it's easy to copy others' work, download things without permission, or cheat in online games, don't do it.

Be an "upstander." If someone you know is being bullied, find a way to show your support. If you feel safe confronting the one doing the bullying, you should. If not, a private message to the target of the bullying can be enough to help someone through a tough time. Speaking up against hate speech is important, too.

Report misbehavior. The internet is a giant community, and you can help it be a nicer place.

Follow your family's rules. If your parent or caregiver tells you to avoid certain websites or to stop texting after a certain time, do your best to respect their wishes. The more you act responsibly, the more privileges you'll get.

Think before you post, text, or share. Consider how you and others might feel after you've posted something. It's not always easy to take back what you've said online, and your online behavior can create a lasting footprint.

Check in with your feelings. Some online experiences can have a negative effect on our mental and emotional well-being. If you ever feel uncomfortable, worried, sad, or anxious, try taking a break and reach out to a friend or adult for help.

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