Information for Parents
- Internet Safety Tips for Kids and Teens
- Social Media Safety
1. Spend time having fun with your parents online and helping them understand technology!
2. Never post your personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address, or your location on any social networking site or through mobile apps like Snapchat or Instagram.
3. Never meet in person with anyone you first “met” on the internet. If someone asks to meet you, tell your parents or guardian right away. Some people may not be who they say they are.
4. Check with your parents before you post pictures of yourself or others online. Do not post inappropriate pictures of anyone.
5. Never respond to mean or rude texts, messages, and e-mails. Delete any unwanted messages. You may need to delete friends who continuously bother you or post things that are not appropriate.
6. NEVER share your password with anyone, including your best friend. The only people who should know your password are your parents or guardian.
7. If you wouldn’t say something to another person’s face, don’t text it or post it online.
8. Do not download or install software or anything on your computer or cell phone before checking with your parents or guardian.
9. Use the privacy settings of social networking sites.
10. If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online, while gaming or when using your cell phone, talk with your parents or guardian right away.
Source: Netwsmartz.org and safekids.com.
Over 80% of teens use social media, and while many have accounts on popular sites, the frequency of use is often impacted by perceived or real bullying. Often, teens gravitate toward newer social sites their parents are unaware of. It is important for parents to monitor their child’s online interactions to prevent inappropriate interactions or situations.
Every site requires you to create a profile. Online, less is more! Be wary of sharing personal information, such as your home or email address, phone number, or other identifying details. Nefarious individuals can use this information to gain access to accounts, spam, impersonate others, or cause harm. Help your child to set their privacy settings to strictly limit who has access to them online, and review the settings periodically.
It is tempting to share everything you do with friends online. However, even seemingly innocent details shared online can put you at risk. Mentioning an upcoming vacation announces to the world your home will be unoccupied! Unless your privacy settings are very strict, it is hard to say who will see your posts, and who will act on the information they see on your page.
What Goes Online, Stays Online
In social media, it is easy to get drawn into drama. Bullying behavior may occur more frequently, as people share and repost things without thinking of the consequences, and tend to hide behind online anonymity and say things they would never say in person. It is difficult to delete posts before others see them, and with the ability to screenshot, embarrassing posts may be saved and shared, even if they were deleted from the site. Be careful about what you post and share, and consider the feelings of others.
For many children, the Internet isn't simply a convenient way to research or a fun afterschool activity - it's a big part of their social life. Emailing and chatting with friends are children's most common online activities, after studying and playing games. But like many other social situations, some kids bully other kids online.
Cyberbullying is similar to other types of bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages. Cyberbullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even strangers, but most often they do know their victims.
Some examples of ways kids bully online are:
- Sending someone mean or threatening emails or text messages
- Excluding someone from an instant messenger buddy list or blocking their email for no reason
- Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others
- Breaking into someone's email account to send cruel or untrue messages while posing as that person
- Creating websites to make fun of another person
- Using websites to rate peers as prettiest, ugliest, etc.
The Effects of Cyberbullying
Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests, or depression. However cyberbullying can seem more extreme to its victims because of several factors:
- It occurs in the child's home. Being bullied at home can take away the place children feel most safe.
- Often kids say things online that they wouldn't say in person, mainly because they can't see the other person's reaction.
- Kids can send emails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks, or post them on a website for the whole world to see.
- Cyberbullies often hide behind screen names and email addresses that don't identify who they are. Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a victim's insecurity.
- It may seem easy to get away from a cyberbully by just getting offline, but for some kids not going online takes away one of the major places they socialize.
Cyberbullying can be a complicated issue, especially for adults who are not as familiar with using the Internet, instant messenger, or chat rooms as kids. But like more typical forms of bullying, it can be prevented when kids know how to protect themselves and parents are available to help.