SplitShire. ‘Legs.’ Pixabay.com. Copyright-free.

Parents will always struggle to protect their children from harm but living in the digital era brings another considerable threat to the safety of kids that doubles the responsibilities of their caregivers. Scam artists, gambling, sexual predators, and even sadistic game designs peddling teenage suicide are just a few of the dangers found on the web.

Open Communication

Granted, trying to pry personal information from teenagers and advanced pre-teens are going to require careful consideration on how to approach them in a way about digital safety that doesn’t cause friction or lead to rebellious behaviors that push them into the arms of criminals and sociopaths.

The digital safety discussion should happen before any little hands begin exploring a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Beginning these open conversations will become part of their normal routine as they grow-up which will allow them independence and skills of self-protection while spending time on social media and the internet.

Tigerlily713. ‘Code.’ Pixabay.com. Copyright-free.

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2015 that found the daily web use of teenagers is at 92 percent and of those respondents  75% owned a smartphone. Another Pew Research Center examination in 2018 found that most teens are on YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat daily. While nearly half of the study participants citing that they are on social media ‘constantly.’

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has recommendations for how to begin these tough discussions about online safety.

Communicate that you want to know them. You are interested in their experiences in the physical and digital worlds.

Show interest in the Apps and games your kids are playing online. Taking the time to play a few games with them. This can give you a better idea of the content style and the other players’ behaviors.

Alverez, Isabel. ‘Girl.’ Pixabay.com. Copyright-free.

Be Honest about Danger

Be open and honest about the dangers on the web (and in real life) but through a positive lens to keep from causing them too much worry.

If a website or game is truly appropriate and beneficial for your child, then tell them how you support that activity.

This is also true for disturbing content. Try to be honest and specific about what is wrong with the problematic site.

              

SplitShire. ‘Legs.’ Pixabay.com. Copyright-free.

Know Who They are Interacting with Online

Renpening, Mike. ‘Human.’ Pixabay.com. Copyright-free.

Routinely ask them if they are concerned about anything they encounter and ensure that they can always come to you. Know who your children are interacting with online. Find out their ages, locations, and try to verify their identities.

When conflicts arise and they will allow your child to explain why they want to interact with a specific website, game, or person and then explain why you are worried about the negative impact of that problematic influence.

Another good idea is to make your teen the expert when discussing social media and other digital spheres. Ask teens and younger kids how they would feel if a younger sibling wanted to share in the experience. It gives them a role in decision-making and helps them adopt safety measures on their own accord.

Troubleshooting Issues with Digital Disobedience

Older teenagers can resent a violation of their digital privacy to the point where they actively try to conceal their activities. SafetyDetectives can’t fix a surly 14-year-old’s anger when their parents ask them about internet safety but they offer an objective review of parental controls and social media privacy settings that can help you keep your children safe, no matter their age!

Also, the SafetyDetectives website has helpful and free resources about protecting your own experience online as well as your child.