Are strangers and pedophiles really the biggest risk to young kids who go online?
No, though they certainly are the issue that scares parents the most. Cyberbullying and exposure to age-inappropriate content remain the biggest risks to kids who are active online. Still, the benefits of the online world outweigh the negatives by far.
By staying involved, you can keep kids safe and teach them how to use digital technology responsibly. Start by showing interest in the sites they visit and the games they play, and your job will be a lot easier when they start exploring these technologies more independently.
Strategies for a responsible -- and safer -- online life:
- Visit age-appropriate sites. Check out a site before your kids visit it. Know what features and content exist, and make sure they're good for your kids.
- Search safely. Use safe-search settings for young kids, or think about applying filtering software to limit inappropriate exposure.
- Avoid strangers. Tell your kids that people aren't always who they say they are online. Explain that if someone they don't know talks to them, they should let you know.
- Be a good cyber citizen. A good rule of thumb: If they wouldn't do something in real life, they shouldn't do it online. Find out how your children can report mean behavior or unkind content on their favorite websites, and teach them how to do it.
- Keep the computer or device in a central place. That way you can see what's going on.
- Discuss expectations. Come up with a plan together about the amount of time your kids spend online and what they do.