How Safe are Your Kids Online?

May 01, 2017

BBB is reminding parents to use caution when allowing children have access to the internet. Whether it’s “tweens” getting their first smart phone, to preschoolers playing games on Mom’s tablet, to students researching a science fair project, the internet has become an integral part of a child’s life. Unfortunately, children are all too often found on the receiving end of negative internet activity and frequently succumb to online threats.

kids online safety

“Parents are concerned about what their children may be seeing online,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “However,  they should also be concerned about what they are sharing online.”

Better Business Bureau and its national Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) have these tips for parents:

  • Talk to your kids. If you’re not already talking to your children about what they read and watch – or where they play and how they interact online – now is the time to start. Check out BBB Children’s Online Safety ( and CARU’s “A Parent’s Guide to Children and Advertising.”

  • Spend some time with your children online. What sites do they visit? What activities do they take part in? Are these sites appropriate for your child’s level of development? Do bloggers disclose if they get paid for talking about products?

  • Explain about online advertising. Just like the overall online experience, online advertising is interactive. Help your children understand that banner ads, pop ups and the like are designed to get you to click. To avoid phishing and scammers, make a family rule about when they are allowed to click and when not.

  • Have a rule about sharing. Tell your children to ask you before they share personal information or photos online. Once that information is on the web, you may not be able to control who sees it and how they use it. Your children should always tell you the types of information they are asked to share or want to share online.

  • Use parental controls. Computers, Internet browsers, tablets and mobile phones have parental controls that you can use to place limits on where your children go online, the types of advertising they may encounter, even the hours they can access the device. Get to know what controls are available to you as a parent and learn how to use them. Start with your mobile carrier; most have extensive online resources for parents.

  • Understand apps. Short for “applications,” apps are downloaded software that can run on various devices. However, there are some things you should know. Apps might collect and share personal information about your child. They may include ads that aren’t labeled as such. Even free apps may include paid features, and children may not understand that some apps or game features cost money, since they were labeled as free to download.

  • Read privacy policies. Apps, games, social media sites and other services all should have a privacy policy and terms of use statement readily available. In many cases, you can restrict an app’s access to additional information on your phone or other device. For instance, you may want to allow a social media site access to photos stored on your phone so that you can easily post them to share with your friends, but you may want to restrict the site’s access to other data on your phone.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.

NOTE: This information is from CARU’s “A Parent’s Guide to Children and Advertising.” Special thanks to the Toy Industry Association, a BBB National Partner, for their support of this project.