Do we hide and shelter our kids from technology or do we expose them to it at an early age?
This is a valid question and one that is a concern for many parents.
I don’t believe iPads should be mounted on infant seats and used to entertain babies. But, I do believe conversations about online safety should begin in earlier childhood years.
We want conversations about online activities and social media to be natural and normal discussions in our homes. We discuss water and roadside safety with our kids. We talk to them about the possible dangers and teach them guidelines for safety from a young age. Online safety should be no different. We’re simply having age appropriate discussions with our kids so they become adults who are digitally responsible.
Here are a few guidelines to consider with younger kids:
1. Never give out personal information online. This includes phone number, full name, address, and locations of places you go especially without parents.
2. Keep kids out of chat rooms that aren’t monitored.
3. Those you “meet” online might not be who they say they are.
4. Kids shouldn’t have any secrets from parents about their activities or friends online.
Don’t assume these talking points are understood by your kids. Instead talk openly with your kids about what they should and should not do and share online. And, be sure your child understands you want to help keep them safe. That’s the goal. Let them know they can come to you without fear if they ever feel threatened or stumble across something that makes them uncomfortable online.
If your child comes to you in an effort to share something upsetting they’ve seen online, stay calm. Don’t react in such a way your child becomes afraid to share with you. I can’t stress this enough. Kids make mistakes and accidents happen. Often kids don’t tell their parents when something bad happens online because they fear the punishment. It’s hard for parents to keep kids safe and guide them when they aren’t aware of what’s happening. Keep open conversations and assure kids they are safe by thanking them for their honestly when they talk to you. Take a moment to evaluate the situation. Then come back with a solution and guidance if needed. In the end this will help keep open lines of communication your child. And, that’s the goal!
Here are additional tips from 17 Cyber Safety Experts. You might find it interesting that talking to your kid is a tip shared by many of these experts.