Talking to Children On Internet Safety

In a calm manner, tell your child what is dangerous about the Internet.

This can include:

  • Legal or financial harm to the family, if you "click" without getting permission.
  • Exposure to harmful material (violence or sexually explicit scenes).
  • People online who may start off friendly but then change.

Even the youngest child can understand the old adage "don't talk to strangers." Teach children from an early age that this includes people who try to talk to them online.

Talk to your children about potential dangers.

Encourage them to tell you when:

  • Someone they don't know attempts to engage them in an online chat.
  • An inappropriate site comes up on the screen.
  • Someone harasses or threatens them online.

A recent study found that most children did not inform their parents when they faced a difficult situation online, such as being contacted by someone they don't know. The main reasons for their hesitation were embarrassment and fear of losing access to the Internet.

Ask your child to tell you when anything questionable happens to them online. Make it clear that they will not lose Internet privileges or be punished if they tell you.

Teach your children about the differences between "pretend" and reality on the Internet.

Many children like to pretend to be someone else while online.

They feel they are anonymous and can take risks.

However, other people also like to pretend to be someone else while online.

But they do it for totally different reasons. Sometimes they do it to hurt people.

Children need to understand that real world rules and values apply on the Internet as they do in real life.

Don't just tell your children what they can't do.

Make a point to sit with your children and see the sites they like to visit.

Explain why if you think a site is inappropriate.

Make it clear to your children that you are in charge.

Children may not realize it, but they need supervision.

Remind them that you have more experience dealing with the world.

Your children must understand that just as you decide which movies they are allowed to see, you will supervise their online activities.