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10 Tips on How to Keep Kids Safe Online

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January 04, 2024


You can help keep your students or kids safe online.

Life for teens and tweens today is drastically different than it was thirty, twenty or even ten years ago. The internet has become a way of life. The internet opens up countless possibilities for kids to learn and access information. In this abundance of information, there is plenty that we do not want our kids or students to come across.

Internet safety is a real issue that parents and teachers need to address. Here are some tips to help keep kids safe online.

Limits on Screen Time

  • Keep Screens in a Public /area. Ten years ago, it was easy to keep the family desktop in an area where family members could walk by and monitor usage. Nowadays, most internet usage now is on laptops, tablets, and phones. Make rules about where kids can use their phones and tablets. Keep them out of their bedrooms or even the bathroom where kids can hide what they are doing.
  • Set Limits: Even for adults, smartphones, tablets, and other devices can be addictive. We start to feel that we need to be connected online at all times. Limit the amount of screen time kids have each day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends consistent limits on the amount of time kids spend on their screens as well as designating screen-free times and places.
  • Wait on Social Media: Kids should not have social media before they hit 13 (or later): Most social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat) require users to be at least 13 before signing up for an account. Of course, there are workarounds and often kids sign up before they are supposed to. Tweens and teens really aren’t developmentally prepared to handle the pressures of social media so it’s best to put off social media use as long as possible.
  • Put your kids’ phone (tablet, computer, etc.) to bed: In a survey done by Common Sense Media,

29% of teens with smartphones said that they get woken up by notifications on their phone.

Being on screens late at night can also interfere with sleep cycles, and can even result in ADHD-like behavior.

  • Use monitoring software: There are many different types of monitoring software available for tablets, laptops, phones, and even your WIFI router. It’s important to set up parental controls on all your different devices. Just don’t expect them to be foolproof.

Cyber Smarts

  • Educate: You can’t put parental controls everywhere, so education is key. Talk through different scenarios and make a plan with kids for how to react, for example, if their friend shows them an inappropriate picture, someone asks them to send an inappropriate photo of themselves, someone is bullying them online. Make sure that they know you are a trusted adult they can come to with these issues.
  • Trust your gut: If you think someone is wrong with your child’s internet use, there very well might be, so talk to them about it. Teach them to do the same. If something they view, a conversation, etc. makes them feel uncomfortable be sure they know it is important to walk away and listen to their instincts.
  • Think long-term: Educate kids about the long-term consequences of their online content. Unfortunately, a picture or comment posted online can haunt a child for a long time. It’s important for kids to know that anything they put online, even if they delete it, is never really gone. In fact, some are calling it a ‘digital tattoo’ rather than a digital footprint. Teach kids with real-life examples and show them how easy it is to find information about people online.
  • Encourage open communication: Emphasize the importance of telling someone if they see something, anything, that makes them feel uncomfortable while they are online. Rather than punishing them if they do make a mistake online, use those experiences as learning tools.

Social Media & Special Needs Students

  • Be extra proactive with kids with special needs: Kids with special needs are particularly vulnerable to danger online because they don’t always see the danger, they sometimes trust too easily. According to crisisprevention.com:
    “Children with special needs face the same dangers online as other children, but they may have an even more difficult time recognizing threatening behavior. Because many kids with special needs struggle with reading social cues, managing behavior, and making judgment calls about others, they can be at a higher risk for cyberbullying and online victimization.”To help your students learn such social cues and other nuances of relationships, check out Circles Intimacy & Relationships: Level 1. This new edition now comes with a whole section on Cyber Safety that clearly outlines the basic guidelines students with special needs can follow to stay safe online.The statistics are alarming for what social media usage means for kids. There seems to be a disconnect between what is happening and what is best for kids. For example, a Common Sense Media survey found that54% of teens believed that “If parents knew what actually happens on social media they’d be a lot more worried about it.”

Parents, schools, and teachers need to take a proactive role, educate kids and encourage open communication about their technology use.

By: Amy Curletto

Amy has been teaching for 12 years in grades K-2. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and also has endorsements in reading and ESL. Besides education, her other passion is writing and she has always dreamed of being a writer. She lives in Utah with her husband, her 3 daughters, and her miniature schnauzer. She enjoys reading, knitting, and camping.

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