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Tips for Parents

Questions to Consider Before Talking with Your Child about Staying Safe in Online Environments

  • Do you have software to monitor your child's use of the computer?
  • Does your child have a social networking site such as MySpace, Facebook, etc.?
  • Has your child posted video to YouTube or other similar sites? If so, have you viewed it and have you discussed rules associated with using these sites?
  • Is your child providing personal information such as name, address, phone number or school information in a profile or on a social networking site?
  • Is your child providing any other information that could be used to locate him or her?
  • Do you have rules for using digital technology, including the Internet, cell phone, personal music device or gaming device (Xbox, Gamecube, Playstation, Wii, etc.)?
  • Are there rules and safeguards for using the computer at your child's school?
  • If your child is using a computer at a community site (library, recreation center, etc.), are there rules or safeguards in place?
  • Has your child reported any acts of cyber-aggression, such as being bullied via text messages, on websites or on social networking sites?
  • Is your child being secretive about use of the computer, cell phone or other electronic device?
  • Have you encouraged your child to tell you about anything or anyone that makes him or her feel uncomfortable online?
  • Do you know whom to contact in your school or community if you are concerned about your child's safety online?

Talking to Your Child about Internet Safety: Keeping the Conversation Real, Open and Honest

It is important to talk to your child regularly about staying safe online. Many times, children will not report online activities that make them un-comfortable or afraid. In most cases, children don't report these types of activities because they think that they will get in trouble or lose their online privileges. Parents can increase the likelihood of having open and honest conversations with their children when they practice these easy to use tips:

  • Talk with your child, not at him or her. In other words, ask his or her opinion and then share yours.
  • Be honest. If you don't know the answers to Internet safety questions, go online together and look for the answers from reputable websites.
  • Make sure your child knows that his or her safety is your main concern. Always stress that your focus is on keeping your child happy and healthy.
  • Keep the conversation going. The more you talk with your child about Internet Safety, the easier it gets for both of you!

Conversation Starters

For Young Children:

  • What would you do if someone online asked for your name and address?
  • Is it ok to talk to strangers? Is ok to talk to strangers online?
  • What would you do if you someone sends you a mean text or IM (instant message)?

For Tweens:

  • Is it ok to give out personal information to people online?
  • What would you do if someone asked you to send a picture of yourself to them?
  • Would you participate in teasing, bullying or making fun of someone? Do you think it's ok to do this electronically?
  • What are your favorite things to do online?

For Teens:

  • Do you think you can remain anonymous using digital technology?
  • What would you do if your boyfriend or girlfriend asked you to send them a provocative picture or video of yourself?
  • What are your favorite things to do online?
  • Do you know that there are laws regulating digital activities?
  • Is it ok to use your wireless device(s) at school? What does the school's Acceptable Use Policy say?