I see lots of references to teaching kids about internet safety, but I am reluctant to frighten my kids unnecessarily. How do I help them be safe without making them scared?
Teaching internet safety is just as important as teaching children to cross the street safely. Walking into traffic without looking will have horrible consequences; navigating the internet naively can as well.
For the games and activities that you have set up for your young children, an explanation of safety precautions isn’t necessary. However, once kids begin to search the internet independently, they must be aware of the potential danger they are exposed to.
Children must understand that they should never put personal information such as an address, phone number or email contact on a website. Explaining why this is dangerous is just as important as explaining why a child should not approach the car of a stranger offering candy.
Discuss the issue of cyberbullying at length. Talk about how typed words can be understood differently than what was intended, and explain the lasting nature of published thoughts. Even the quietest child can find power behind a keyboard and screen.
Exposure to inappropriate material is a very real danger. Risking your child’s innocence is serious. Accidental exposure can lead the most responsible 10 or 12 year old to pornographic material. The importance of this threat cannot be overemphasized. Use filters and blocks and keep all computers and phones in high traffic areas where you can monitor activity.
Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org