Published May 26, 2021
What Is Internet Safety? And why is it so important?
The internet is filled with exciting opportunities to learn and explore. There is endless fun and boundless knowledge online for children and adults of all ages, and many websites and apps devoted to bringing families together.
In this day and age, it’s more important than ever to make sure that kids stay safe on the internet. It is not our intention to frighten parents into disallowing children to use the internet at all. However, we do want to provide information about potential online dangers – alongside constructive advice for dealing with them.
Internet safety is as easy as 1, 2, 3:
- Know the dangers.
- Discuss the dangers.
- Monitor activity.
We’ve developed this resource to help you understand and communicate the dangers facing your children as they learn to use the internet. You’ll also learn where to find resources that allow you to monitor your children’s internet usage and how to use them.
Online Risks and Dangers
Know the risks and dangers so you can communicate them to your child.
Internet safety for kids depends on parents being aware of online risks and understanding how to help their children and teens avoid them. The information below may be alarming, but knowing the risks is the first step in keeping your children safe.
Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content.
Cyberbullying can cause stress, depression and fear in youth result of being bullied and to empower you to make healthy decisions. Some youth have even taken their own lives as a result of harsh cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
If you worry that your child is or may become a victim of cyberbullies, check out these resources for more options:
Online Frauds and Scams
Children can be extorted by scammers to obtain personal, banking, or credit card information.
Personal data protection is extremely challenging in this age of technology. While anyone can be targeted for fraud, young people seem to report the crime more often.
Children and teens can be particularly suceptible to certain types of online scams: romance, fake contests, fake charities or GoFundMe drives, fake free trials of products that can’t be accessed freely.
If you feel you or your child have been a victim of fraud, check out these resources for further assistance:
Children and teens who visite dangerous or explicit websites may not only view pornography, they may be solicited to produce it.
More and younger children are accessing internet pornography. The average age of first exposure is 11 (Randel and Sanchez, “Huffington Post” – 2016). This exposure is having prolonged negative effects on childrens development, self-esteem, and respect.
Reading this, your first instinct might be to take away your kid’s phone or laptop. But that could actually encourage them to not talk to you about difficult issues in their life — and it could lead them to go to greater lengths to hide what they’re doing online.
These resources will help you learn more about this issue, how to keep your kids from visiting dangerous websites, and where to report dangerous sites targeting children and teens.
Teaching children not to talk to strangers online is every bit as important as teaching them to avoid strangers in person.
With more children stuck at home, spending more time on the internet, instances of online child abuse have increased dramatically.
Predators hang out wherever children and teens hang out online. They often disguise themselves as members of the age-group they target, and spend time grooming and learning about children before making a move. If they can convince a child to do something, like send a simple picture, they will use that to blackmail the child into more graphic activity. Once your child’s image is online, it will stay there.
- These people teach each other how to get away with their crimes.
- Understand that if your child is exploited online, it’s not their fault. Seek professional intervention immediately.
- Communication is the absolute best way to protect your child from online sexual predators.
Remember, communication is the absolute best way to keep your children safe both off and on the internet.
Communication and Safety
Communicating the dangers and risks of the internet to your children in an honest, age appropriate way will help you make rules your children will follow.
Almost every American child and teen has access to the internet. The older they get, the more they socialize in online games or social websites just as they would on a playground.
30% have used the internet in ways their parents wouldn’t approve
Only a small percentage of parents know their children have used the internet in ways they would not approve. An equally small percenage of parents know that children have been exposed to ilicit content on the internet. Communication is key to keeping this from becoming a problem in your family.
21% have visited sites where they can chat with strangers
In reality, online socialization has become a fact of life. Any place online where children and teens can interact with eachother, they can also interact with strangers. By keeping open communication with your children, you can maintain a conversation about appropriate interactions online and encourage your children not to speak to strangers online.
17% have visited sites featuring pornography
Most children and teens do not go looking for pornography online – they’re exposed to it through friends or accidently as they use search engines. Unfortunately, many children who return to pornography do so to learn about sex. Healthy communication between you and your child can prevent them from using negative images or videos instead of coming to you.
11% have visited sites that offer ways to cheat on homework
Today, there are websites dedicated to helping young people cheat on homework. If your child is struggling in school, this could seem like a viable option. Keep talking to your child about options for improving in difficult subjects. Be sure to give them space to feel frustrated and schedule plenty of downtime and rest to keep them from getting overwhelmed.
Speaking with your children in an honest, nonconfrontational way will prepare them to leave and report situations they encounter online that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Source: Children’s Internet Usage Study, Center for Cyber Safety and Education
Monitoring and Trust
Monitoring your child’s online activity is important, but it is only a supplement to a trusing, open relationship.
It’s also important to remember that monitoring your child’s online activity without their consent may hurt their trust in you, making it more likely they’ll avoid coming to you if they do confront trouble online.
That said, monitoring outside attempts to engage your child in unacceptable behavior should be part of your overall online safety plan. We’ve created a list of resources to help you monitor internet usage and limit the types of content your child is exposed to online.
Follow this link to learn more aobut online monitoring software and applications.
Take the Pledge!
The Online Safety Pledge is a pact between you and your child, designed to build the trust and accountability between you that will keep your child safer online.
The parent’s pledge centers on communicating the risks and dangers of online activity to your children, and providing safety tools.
You will pledge to:
- Be honest about risks and dangers your child may encounter online
- Be responsive to your child, not reactive
- Always help your child find solutions to their problems regardless of how serious those problems may be.
The kids pledge centers on acknowledging that they’ve learned about the risks and dangers of the internet, and a promise to be open, honest, and vigilant.
Your child will pledge to:
- Stay off of websites that may be ilicit or dangerous
- Come to you immediately if they are made uncomfortable online
- Practice the safety measures listed in the pledge
- Click here to download and print the complete pledge now. Fill it out together and hang in somewhere where your child will see it when they use the internet at home.
We’re your partners in keeping your kids safe online.
The staff at Avondale Meadows Middle School work hard to ensure our students get all the benefits of intenet access without the risk. Want to learn more about enrolling your child with us?