Internet Safety for Kids & Teens

Chapter 6: Internet Safety Tips

Internet Safety Tips for Parents & Teachers

With the help of Detective Cronister and Professor Kshetri, we’ve put together a list of internet safety tips you can use to help keep kids and teens safe in the digital world:

  • Be aware and engaged in your kids’ and teens’ lives. This is the most critical way to ensure that your kids don’t become victims of cybercrimes or commit those crimes against others. By being engaged in their lives, you’re showing them that you care and are there to support and guide them.
  • Establish open communication. Remind kids and teens that they can come to you when they have troubles & concerns. Also, be open and willing to answer questions and talk about online dangers no matter how uncomfortable it makes you.
  • Control your reaction. If your kids or teens come to you to admit an issue, don’t react with anger. That will break down the trust you’ve established with your teen or child and will make them less likely to share such information again with you in the future.
  • Teach kids and teens never to share personal or identifying information online. This includes not sharing their names, phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses, their school name or address, sports teams that they’re part of, etc.
  • Remind them that everything they upload, share, or post creates a permanent record. The internet has a longer memory than any elephant. Once something gets posted online, even if they choose to delete it later, there’s a permanent record that will exist on one or more servers around the world.

Limiting access to only certain hours of the day is a good way to ensure your kids and teens don’t develop an unhealthy reliance on mobile devices.

  • Teach kids “netiquette” and how to interact appropriately online. This helps to prevent your child or teen from becoming a cyberbully.
  • Set limits and rules for what they can do online (and when). Limiting access to only certain hours of the day is a good way to ensure your kids and teens don’t develop an unhealthy reliance on mobile devices. For example, they don’t need access to their mobile devices or laptops in the early morning hours when they should be sleeping. However, that’s often when cybercrimes tend to occur, when kids are tired and not thinking clearly.
  • Show them examples so they can learn what to avoid. Show them examples of what to look out for in terms of phishing emails, malicious websites, inappropriate content, fake social media profiles, etc.
  • Ask them to show you how to block, report, or flag inappropriate content or people. Have them show you what they know to ensure they can respond to inappropriate situations.
  • Help them learn to trust their instincts. If someone makes them feel uncomfortable or tries to encourage or manipulate them into doing inappropriate things, this person is not their friend. Remind them that if something feels “off” or wrong, they shouldn’t engage with that person and should tell an adult.
  • Inform others about inappropriate content they receive. If your child or teen receives inappropriate content about someone else, they should tell an adult. They should also make that person aware of the information or pictures of theirs that’s being shared.
  • Retain administrative control of your kids’ devices. Set parental controls (either using a password or biometric such as your thumbprint) so your kids can’t download or install new apps without your permission.
  • Know the passwords to all of your kids’ devices. Set the passwords on your kids’ devices (so you know it) and give them the password, not the other way around.
  • Turn on parental control settings on mobile devices. This is a great first step in controlling what your kids or teens can do on their devices. For example, this allows you to prevent them from making settings or password-related changes without entering your admin password.
  • Use parental control apps to keep tabs on how kids are using their devices. On smartphones and tablets, install device monitoring software that gives you the ability to receive notifications and review content on your kids’ devices. Although it will cost you money, the peace of mind it will offer is worth its weight in gold.
  • Change your network’s default password. While using the default password that comes with your router is easy, it’s insecure and provides hackers and other cybercriminals with easy access to your data. Just remember that if you can access something remotely, it means that cybercriminals may be able to as well.
  • Consistently update hardware, software, and apps. While running updates may be annoying or inconvenient, they’re how manufacturers can fix security vulnerabilities. So, be sure to keep everything patched and up to date.
  • Allow kids to only use devices where you can see them. Allow kids to only use their computers and devices in open areas of the home where parents and siblings can see the screen.

Inquire about any online connections or “friends” you don’t recognize
on your kids’ or teens’ social networks and chat apps.

  • Set web browser parental controls. This allows you to limit the searches that kids can run via search engines.
  • If they’re not friends in real life, they shouldn’t be friends online. Inquire about any online connections or “friends” you don’t recognize on your kids’ or teens’ social networks and chat apps. If your kids or teens can’t give you a good idea of who they are and how they’re connected to them, those individuals shouldn’t have access to their network connections, private information, or photos.
  • Teach them to look for verification symbols when following celebrities. When using social media apps like Twitter and Instagram, teach your kids to look for the “verified” checkmark.
  • Take screenshots of inappropriate images and conversations. When facing an uncomfortable situation, it’s natural for kids to want to delete conversations and images because they feel embarrassment or guilt. However, one of the most important things you and your kids can do is take screenshots of the offending material. (This is especially important for apps like Snapchat, which deletes the content after a set period of time or number of views.) This will help to provide proof that law enforcement will need but may not be able to get after the fact.

Be sure to check out our downloadable resources for more information you can share with your kids & teens that will help them stay safe online.

Explore each of the topics below to glean both expert advice
and tips for how to talk to your kids and students