Should I worry that I don't know who my kids' online friends are?

Not necessarily. Kids' online friends are typically pals from school, sports, or other groups they're involved in. In fact, kids often strengthen their real-world friendships by connecting online. However, plenty of kids belong to certain online communities -- such as those related to Minecraft, LEGO, and the Hunger Games -- where they don't know the real identities of the other members. That may be fine, since online groups such as these often are bonded by a common purpose and don't bother engaging in negative behavior.

Certain precautions will help keep online relationships safer:

  • Make sure your kids set privacy settings that prevent people they don't know from contacting them.
  • Check in frequently with your kids about whom they're interacting with, whether they've ever been contacted by a stranger, and if they ever "prune" their contact lists by deleting or blocking acquaintances.
  • Make sure they know not to share personally identifiable information.
  • Ask about your kids' online relationships and what they're learning from their online interactions.
  • Talk about why they should never make plans to meet a stranger offline.
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Comments

Parent written by Tracey J.

My 3 teen daughter all love social media and I sit them down all time going over the dos & don’t but still they have friends who are strangers. As much as it seams to be ok coz I’ve check there mobiles should I still be scared. I mean in my days we where encourages to have penpals yet I’m trying to stop the them doing this help please as I really don’t know what to do
Teen, 13 years old written by Emma13

If you know the kids are from school that's okay but you should really check because if there NOT from school your kid could be talking to a stalker
Teen, 17 years old written by rueligion

My parents were very strict about me NEVER talking to people online. I created a page that encouraged others and the only time I ever did have a lengthy conversation with someone else, was when I was talking someone out of suicide or trying to help them with depression or anxiety. My parents never knew about this page, but the thing was - they raised me well (or so I think). I did begin to talk to people a little more, but I NEVER gave out personal information. I was (and am) always careful with my privacy, because not only do I not want to disobey my parents on an important matter like that, and not only do I know I should be careful, I WANT to be careful. I know what kind of people can be on the internet, and I'm very cautious of that. Most other teens (and tweens) are very careful with their own personal information, especially if they've been taught why they should be careful, and what the consequences are if they aren't careful. I'm not talking parental punishment consequences, I'm talking life-threatening consequences. I have bumped into some people who are NOT careful with information whatsoever. While that is seemingly very rare, it's important that your child is careful. Do you trust your child? That's what it boils down to. You should always be there for your child, and let them know that you have their best interest at heart. However, I find it very invading when my parents would take my passwords or be all up in my business. I never did anything wrong, but I still wanted a little bit of privacy between me and my own friends. There's a very thin line between protecting them and getting into their business too much as well. Although it is your child, he/she is still their own person. Online interaction is something that I used to be afraid of. Now, I see that it has actually strengthened me and formed me in ways as a person. It can be a good thing, because there are so many people out there that are your age who go through the same things as you and who understand you. But you always have to be wary of who is leading you to believe they are your age, when they aren't. I haven't given out my age online. I've always denied access to my age. Unless you have serious reasons not to trust your child, I think they are fine. Most kids these days are very responsible, no matter how media portrays them. Sorry for the long response. :) I just hope it was helpful!