Tech Savvy Kids: How to Empower Your Child to Explore the Internet Safely

Tech Savvy Kids: How to Empower Your Child to Explore the Internet SafelyThe internet has been hailed as one of the greatest tools for learning, but like many developments in technology, it hasn’t come without risks.

While it’s wise to limit kids’ screen time (movies, video games, and even the internet) in the early years, especially as their brains continue to develop, sooner or later they’re likely to want to venture online.

Social media is one of my passions, but being a wise parent and empowering tech savvy kids to be safe is an even higher priority for sure!

Like any activity, there are risks involved with social media use. When you decide what age is appropriate, prep your family with tools to help raise kids who are socially savvy and wise. Here’s how…

Talk to your kids… and listen.

This is important for so many reasons as a parent, and it has special importance when your child is using social media.

Become familiar with the sites your kids use online.  Make it a point to talk with your kids about what they’re doing online. Just like you know their offline friends, ask about the friends they have online.

It’s also important to make sure you keep the lines of communication open with your kids for another reason – so they know, without a doubt, you’re a trusted person to go to and will have their back if something unanticipated happens such as cyber bullying.

Teach your kids to communicate politely online, but encourage them to limit their personal sharing.

Just like you model manners to your kids before going out into the world, it’s important to discuss online manners before your kids venture into social media.  Please and thank you are always in style – and when texting, their abbreviated forms (pls and ty) are appreciated as well.

That said – help them know that even while they’re being polite, it’s not a good idea to share personal information with people online.  Be specific about the kinds of information that they shouldn’t share online, whether it’s their own information or information about family members.

As your children become teens, it’s a good idea to talk with them about the possible consequences of having sexual conversations. Teens who just don’t talk about sex online are more empowered to respond appropriately to possible predators by blocking them and telling parents about them.

Learn how to respond to cyber bullying.

Let your kids know that you won’t allow someone to bully them (and that you won’t allow them to bully someone else).  Talk about some of the different forms cyber bullying takes, and go through how to respond to online bullying together.

Understand that actions have consequences.

It’s good for our kids to learn that actions have natural results – and online this is just as true as ever.  Help them to understand that once something is posted or e-mailed – they can’t make it go away.

Teach them that it’s good to err on the side of caution before posting. Suggest that they think in their mind, “what would happen if Mom saw it?  Grandma?  My teacher?” Because with the way social media works, more often than not these days, they absolutely will see it.

Limit who sees your child’s profile.

Go through your kids’ profiles online and make sure that you’ve limited who sees them. Every social media program has its own privacy settings – get familiar with them.  Help your kids to understand why those settings are so important, and let them know what you expect in terms of the people they connect with online.

Raising socially savvy kids requires teaching your kids how to minimize their online risks. With a few tips and some work to keep the lines of communication open, you’ll raise kids ready to embrace the technology of the 21st century while protecting them at the very same time.

Conscious Parenting - Internet & Social Media Safety Tips for Kids

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