Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe Online

Sep 28, 2012 12:11:23Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Tips to Help Kids Stay Safe Online

Social media is an integral method of communication these days, and you probably know far more people who have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts than those who do not. This is true for people of all ages, even children. While most social media sites have restrictions aimed at banning children under the age of 13, many kids find ways around these safeguards. According to Reuters, there are more than 5.6 million children under 13 currently using Facebook, despite rules that do not permit such behavior.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act for those 12 and younger requires websites like Facebook to ban children or require parental permission before kids can access the site. This law is in place to protect kids and prevent marketers from collecting their personal data and using it to create targeted advertising.

Even if you don't want your children to use Facebook before they're technically allowed, you should talk to them about the importance of internet privacy. Here are a few tips for helping keep your kids stay safe online.

1. Sharing information

The first thing you should do is sit down with your kids and have a frank discussion about internet privacy. Explain the importance of keeping personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses, offline. Forbes suggests parents should also make sure their kids understand that they should never accept friend requests or chat with people they don't know.

2. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has become a hot button issue in recent years, so you'll want to talk to your kids about the emerging problem. You should approach the topic from both sides, explaining how inappropriate online interactions can cause harm to others as well as highlighting the importance of letting you or another trusted adult know if they are being victimized online.

3. Protecting online privacy

After you've covered safe internet use, you should remind your kids how important it is that they always remember to log out of websites when they're finished using them, especially on public or school computers.  If they don't, someone else could hack into their account and access their data. Kids should also be taught to keep their passwords private and practice good safety habits like changing a password every few months.

Instilling these practices in children now can help them stay safe online as they grow up. After all, practice makes perfect and they may take these lessons with them when they're on their own.