5 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Cyber Safety

There is always a hot, new app which pops up and starts trending. What if your tween’s device suddenly has that app? Or an unfamiliar app?  What are the important steps to be a responsible parent in these cases?

Last week, our StratEdgies blog post focused on what parents can do to help raise wise digital kids. Earlier this week, Green Hedges welcomed Iris Beckwith, President of connectED4safety LLC, to campus to share tips for parents on navigating the ever-changing cyber world in which we, and our children, live. She also presented to our tweens in Grades 4 and 5 and our Middle School teens.

While each presentation was geared towards very different audiences, the one common theme was the importance of being proactive, when it comes to cyber safety.

Here are 5 takeaways from Iris’ presentation to parents:

  1. Be the owner of your family’s electronic devices and set parameters. Set limits early on and emphasize that access to apps, messaging, video games and social media are privileges and not rights. Regular check-ins, especially with teenagers, allows for a conversation about what is working and what isn’t.
  1. Periodically check the browser history on all your family devices. It sounds intuitive, but periodically checking the browsing history of computers, laptops and iPads can help you see where your child has been online and allow you to remind them about appropriate sites based on your family rules. Seeing a cleared browsing history? Well, that may signal the need for a conversation as well. Also, you should not only know all of your kid’s passwords, but check them regularly to see if any of them have changed.
  1. Sharenting. The “term used to describe the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children. It is related to the concept of ‘too much information’.” While no one wants to tell you not to post photos of your adorable kids online, it may be helpful to stop and think about the digital footprint of your child it is leaving behind. Always make sure your privacy settings are what you want them to be before posting on social media. Here’s a helpful link on navigating privacy settings on Facebook.
  1. Always ask yourself and ask your kids “who has access to this?” Again, be aware of what your privacy and location settings are and how to turn them off. There can often be hidden data available when you post online, so just be aware of who is seeing what and how much information they can ascertain from one post of yours. Learn about privacy settings on social media here.
  1. Conversations around cyber safety should start early and continue on a regular basis. While supervision of online activity is certainly an important factor in keeping our kids safe, we also want them to be equipped with the right information and tools to know what is safe and unsafe at an early age. It only takes a few minutes to share something you shouldn’t online, but could takes months to years to recover from it.

As with many topics in parenting, open lines of communication are critical. Talk with your kids and listen to their worries, concerns and questions so you know where they need your support and guidance.