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  • Powerful Tools you can Teach your Children to Help Protect them Online

    May 26, 2017

    photo1blogby Hilary Smith

    Surprisingly, one of the hardest aspects of parenting is allowing our children to spread their wings and fly solo. Afterall, they used to beg to hold our hands or sit on our laps. Now, most of them just want to text their friends, hang out at the movies, or meet at the new trampoline center instead of spending time with us. We have raised our kids to be independent, making all those lessons about crossing the street, stranger danger, and basic safety worth the hard work.


    Watching our kids mature without us is difficult, but this means that we are succeeding at our jobs. However, along this journey to independence we might have overlooked instilling the skills needed to protect themselves online. As technology changes, our kids still need us to help guide them and empower them so they can safely navigate the digital world along with the real life world.


    4 Reasons Why We Need To Teach Online Safety


    Most of us willingly hand our youngsters digital devices without teaching them basic social media etiquette or ways to protect themselves online. We innocently give them a cell phone, tablet, gaming system, or computer so they can play a game, complete homework assignments, or message their friends. In that moment, we are just trying to help or pacify them. Unfortunately, many of us are unwillingly handing our sons and daughters access to a digital world that harbors some very serious dangers that can have far reaching consequences to their well being.


    Listed below is a sampling of some digital threats facing our kids we should be aware of:


    Cyberbullying. This online danger has made countless headlines in the past few years, but most of us assume our kids are smart enough to avoid cyberbullying. However, this digital trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even with all of the awareness, it is believed that cyberbullying rates have tripled within the last few years, even after we have held countless school assemblies and embraced zero tolerances against bullying. This means that 87 percent of our children have already encountered cyberbullying in some form.


    Sexting. Sexting is a modern version of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” and is considered a normal part of development. Unfortunately, this mentality is landing a lot of our sons and daughters in hot water. Sexting opens up our kids to exploitation, cyberbullying, teasing, and even felony prosecution for owning or sharing child pornography.


    Identity theft or phishing. As technology evolves, so do the scams. Phishing is a method commonly used to trick people into opening a virus or sharing personal information which can result in identity theft or the sharing of financial account information. Today, these scams look legitimate, authentic, and can be difficult to detect until it is already too late. Often, kids are lured in by realistic looking emails, the promise of cheap goods, applications for scholarships, game demos, coupons, or free ringtones.


    Online predators. Predators go where children are and today that is online. According to the FBI, it is believed that 500,000 predators are logged online everyday. These creepers love the anonymity of the Internet and the ability to create fake personas, often creating a “teen” identity, that make it easy to contact children without even having to leave the house. They then scour social media and online hangouts looking for young users to groom.


    10 Tips to Empower Children Living in a Digital World


    Even though online dangers are frightening, we can’t realistically ban technology from our homes. Whether we like it or not, the digital world is here to stay. Thankfully, we can empower our sons and daughters with the skills to safely navigate the digital landscape.


    Listed below are 10 essential strategies and tools to teach our kids online safety:


    Develop a technology contract for the family that labels all expectations and consequences for using technology.


    Tell children to keep passwords private.


    Scrutinize emails, links, and registrations to make sure they aren’t being phished before clicking, downloading, or following links.


    Remind them that it’s alright to “say no” for sexts.

    If they do sext, make sure they know not to show their face or any distinguishing marks in the photos.


    Encourage them seek an adult immediately if they encounter anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable.


    Make sure to document all bullying messages.


    Friend people you actually know and avoid accepting requests from strangers.


    Never meet online friends IRL (in real life).


    Avoid sharing online your class schedules, address, itineraries, identifiable backgrounds (schools, malls, homes, etc.) and places you work.


    How does your family teach children online protection?

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