Today is Safer Internet Day. It’s a day to raise awareness about how to keep kids safe online. Safer Internet Day was founded when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission curated an agreement to work together to build a better Internet for youth.
At WebSafety, we believe Safer Internet Day is EVERY DAY. Here’s what you can do to prevent tragedies.
Have open, honest conversations with your children and teens about what they post online, who they talk to, how their friend’s posts make them feel, if they are ever pressured into online dating, and how they react to someone they suspect is an online predator. This conversation is not just a once-a-year chat. It should be revisited often. If you are afraid your child is being cyberbullied or is cyberbullying others, reach out to your child’s teachers, counselors, principals, and even the police. These are serious situations that should not be shrugged off. When your child is contacted by someone who is trying to extort nude pictures from them, report that person immediately. Call your local police and open an investigation by reporting the incident to The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children. Check your child’s phone for “anonymous messaging apps” and review the content in those apps. Experts also recommend using apps like WebSafety to monitor children’s text messaging, social media, and web-browsing. You can find tips on how to talk to your child about monitoring their online content here.
Tweens and Teens:
Don’t post or text anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. Anyone can take a screenshot and share it. If someone asks you to send them a nude picture or tries to have a sexual conversation with you, tell an adult right away. Predators often threaten kids by saying they know where they live and will harm them and their family. Do not respond to these threats. Take a screen shot of the conversation and report it to your parents, teachers, principal, and police. Don’t use your real name online or your photo as your avatar for online gaming. Turn Geo-Tagging off of mobile device camera apps and photos. More tips for online safety for children can be found here.
Friends, Teachers, and Counselors:
If you suspect a minor (under the age of 18) is being cyberbullied, might be having a romantic online relationship with an adult, or is posting sexual and/or violent images and text online, tell someone. Talk to that minor’s parents. Tell an officer of the law. This minor could be at risk of being abducted, running away, or committing suicide. Don’t wait and hope for the best. Take action to save your loved ones from harm.
By: B. Staples