Kids may not think about the consequences of communicating online or via social media. Start the conversation with your children — discuss your values about what they should and shouldn’t do on their phones or computers. Help them understand their immediate internet or social media usage can have lasting outcomes.
For help with talking to your kids about safe technology and internet usage, call SAFELine at 814-456-SAFE (7233).
- Take a basic computer class so you know how to access documents, internet history, and passwords. You can’t help your child be safe on the computer if you don’t know how to use it.
- Keep the computer in a public room in the house, where your child would be less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.
- Use passwords so you can control what activities your child may engage in online. Consider requiring a password for any internet usage.
- Use software that filters out inappropriate content, or even tracks what web sites your child visits. Any computer retailer can assist with this.
Social Networking and Email
- Remind your child that information they share on social media can be seen by anyone, at any time.
- Encourage your child to tell you immediately if he or she is being cyberbullied, or if he or she observes it happening to someone else. Remind your child if they engage in this behavior it can have very serious consequences, like expulsion from school, legal charges, and lasting emotional issues for the victim.
- Don’t erase bullying or harassing content. Instead, print and save it. This may be necessary for use as evidence later.
- Try to identify any anonymous threats and/or harassment.
- Contact the police if your child receives messages are threatening, contain sexualized content, or are harassing.
- Negative, threatening, or harassing behavior may violate agreements users have agreed to on their email or networking sites. File a complaint with the respective companies whenever possible.
- Let your child’s school know about any cyberbullying and its source.
- Block emails as needed but be aware that the bully may start using a different email.
- Don’t let your child join a social networking site unless you and several of your friends and relatives also have profiles on the same site. This helps you monitor your child and his or her friends.
Mobile Phones and Texting
- Talk to your child about healthy and unhealthy uses of texting and sharing photos. Make sure your child knows that their messages and photos can go anywhere to anyone, and that there could be legal consequences in some cases.
- Texting should not be used to communicate emotional topics, like break-ups, conflict, or expressions of sadness or jealousy.
- Create boundaries so kids know how to use their phones, including not allowing phones at meals, during homework, or after a certain time in the evening.
- Help your child understand the costs associated with their phone use, including data usage.
- If your child is old enough to drive, make sure he or she knows the dangers of distracted driving. Tell your children not use their phones at all while driving.