Protecting Kids Online
Set some ground rules.
Establish clear guidelines like what types of sites kids can visit, apps they can download, and when they can have access to electronics. Consider “blackout” periods that require disconnection.
Research before you buy.
It’s important to learn about a device’s capabilities before you buy. Will it allow unknown people to communicate with my child? Will this allow children to make unchecked purchases?
Go beyond safeguards.
Installing monitoring software doesn’t guarantee your child will be safe online. Time, attention, and active conversation are the best tools to protect them.
If your kids are dealing with cyberbullies or potential online enticement, report it to the website, cell phone provider, law enforcement, or CyberTipline.org
Know the platforms.
Online enticement happens across all platforms, so be aware of the sites, games, and apps your children frequent. Ask them to show you how they use them.
Teach your kids to spot common tricks used by online offenders. In NCMEC CyberTipline reports, the most common tactics used to entice a child online were:
- Engaging the child in sexual conversation/roleplay as a grooming method.
- Directly asking the child for sexually explicit images of themselves, or offering to mutually exchange images.
- Developing a rapport with the child through compliments and other supportive behaviors such as “liking” their online posts.
- Sending unprompted sexually explicit images of themselves.
- Pretending to be younger.
- Offering incentives for explicit content.
Spot the Red Flags.
A child who is experiencing online enticement may be:
- Spending increasing time online.
- Getting upset when he or she is not allowed on their device.
- Taking extra steps to conceal what they are doing online.
- Receiving gifts from people you don’t know.
Talk about it!
Your kids might not tell you everything, but ask anyway. Regular conversations about safety can go a long way in increasing trust and communication.
Challenge them to a duel. If you have kids who like to play online games, ask if you can play, too. When you respect their interests, they’re more likely to respect your rules.
Don’t pull the plug.
Taking away internet access because they may have made mistakes online doesn’t solve the problem. Talk to them about protecting themselves and respecting others online.
Visit MissingKids.org/NetSmartz for more on digital safety issues. There you'll find helpful videos, printable tip sheets, presentations, and other activities