Internet Safety and Social Media Safety

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The internet provides information that can be helpful for children and their education. The internet also can pose dangers for children, including inappropriate content, cyberbullying and predators. Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness is dedicated to helping families with internet safety and social media safety resources for children.

Internet Safety Tips

Teaching kids safe behavior when using the internet may help them act responsibly while online. Here are some basic tips to follow:

  1. Use parental controls: Use parental controls and filters on electronic devices.
  2. Create a family media agreement: A family media agreement is a written document that includes clear boundaries and rules on digital use and screen time, and consequences for breaking the rules within the plan. This agreement should be unique to your family and parenting style, and should be simple, clear and enforceable. Customize a family media plan with this Family Media Use Plan Tool.
  3. Communicate with your kids: Encourage them to talk to you if they feel uncomfortable with anything they have seen on the internet or messages they have received. Keep conversations going, check in with your kids and ask questions, such as what is your favorite website?
  4. Remind kids to never give out personal information to anyone: Information that should be kept private includes phone number, address, school name, photos and passwords.
  5. Do not reveal identity: Remind kids when chatting online to choose a nickname that does not reveal their identity.
  6. Practice good internet manners: Encourage kids to be kind online. Remind them to never send a message they would not say to anyone’s face or send pictures they would not show to a family member.
  7. Be wary of strangers: Tell kids to never meet anyone in person they have met online.
  8. Establish healthy habits with screens: Families can set healthy boundaries with screen time as part of their family media agreement. Encourage family members to put phones away during meals. Family members can charge phones in a central location and not in their bedrooms. Set a time for screen time to end each day, at least one hour before bedtime.
  9. Know warning signs: Talk with your child if you notice behaviors such as spending long periods of time online, shutting down or turning off screens when a family member enters the room, and isolation and withdrawal, especially at night.
  10. Uphold family rules around the internet and screen time: If boundaries are not maintained, act immediately with consequences.

Social Media Safety

Talk with your child before they set up social media accounts so your child can remain safe. Here are some things you can share with your child about social media safety:

  • Limit information: Social media accounts usually only require an email address and name to set up. The other information in a profile, such as location, school or employer, is all optional. Suggest that your child keep the optional, personal information they share to a minimum.
  • Use stricter privacy levels: Content shared on social media can be viewed by others based on a user’s privacy settings. Depending on the social media platform, privacy setting levels can be “open to everyone,” “friends of friends” or “friends only,” or whole accounts can be friends-only, where users have to friend each other to be able to see content. Be aware of your child’s privacy settings, and suggest levels that encourage a smaller audience of friends and family.
  • Only interact with people you know: Explain to your child that people they may not know may try to add them as friends or contacts on social media. Let your child know that it’s safer to only accept people you know in real life.

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