The Internet poses continual challenges for parents and caregivers because, unlike television or radio, the Internet is interactive. Your child can interact with anyone online from home, school or elsewhere. The Internet allows any user, anywhere, to post information, including materials that are inaccurate, misleading and inappropriate for children. It also enables anyone to collect personal information from your child.
Parents and guardians should stay on top of the most prevalent risks children and teens may encounter online while they’re home for summer - and all year-round:
Bullying and harassment – Cyberbullying most often occurs on social networking sites, email and text messages. Listen to your children and encourage them to discuss their fears and feelings about such incidents. The online safety website SafeKids.com has resources to help you deal with cyberbullying.
Reputation-harming online posts – Children may not understand that what they post online is there forever even if content is deleted, someone else may have it saved. Be sure your kids understand this, especially as it applies to photographs. Take the time to use a search engine to check up on what has been posted by or about your children.
Phishing attempts and identity theft – Help your children understand that emails requesting passwords and usernames may be fake and they they should never click on links in such emails. Explain to them that passwords should be shared with no one except you, and make sure your devices’ operating systems and security software are up to date.
Inappropriate content – Children can easily stumble upon material that is sexual, violent or illustrates illegal activity. SafeKids.com also has resources for parents who discover that their children have been viewing pornography online.
Online stalkers/predators – The risk of a child or teen being harmed by someone they meet online is considered to be low, yet happens. Make sure your child understands that any online communication that veers into subjects like sex or physical details should be ended at once and reported to you. Call your local police department if you suspect your child is being contacted by a predator.
The importance of privacy – Teach your children to never give out personal information (name, home address, telephone number, age, race, school name or location, or friends' names) or use a credit card online without your permission. Look into software or online services that filter out offensive materials and sites.
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, visit bbb.org.