The Internet Safety Conversation:
Our second grader came home the other day with a yellow flyer from his computer lab teacher. I almost threw it the trash without looking at it – just because, well you know how much paper the kids bring home. Apparently the kids learned about internet safety that day. Their teacher broke the ice and started a very important dialog, for which I am grateful. The internet can be a dangerous playground. Sharing internet safety tips the kids WILL follow is more important today than ever before.
(This post was updated for accuracy in September 2018)
Our kids have limited access to the internet, however, I knew the day was rapidly approaching when I would have to sit them down and talk about how to safely navigate the world wide web. I didn’t want to speak TO them, but rather start a conversation WITH them about the whys, the hows, the why nots, and certainly the what ifs.
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Unlike the talk about the birds and the bees, which dates back to the beginning of time, our generation is the first to discuss social media, internet usage and the possible dangers of “the man behind the monitor.” It may sound easy, but this is my first time having “the talk” and I find that it is a hard conversation to have. I don’t like warning my child of the ugliness in this world. I would much rather tell him not to run with scissors and not to lick the door handle. Those dangers are much less scary than white conversion vans, middle-aged men with screen names like “rainbows and unicorns” and cyber bullies.
(Now that we are talking about “kids and online safety. Don’t miss these cell-phone rules that will keep your tween safe in the real world!)
I found a perfect analogy for “the internet” which made the entire concept less abstract to an 8 year old, and it put things into perspective for him.
I simply told him to think of “the internet” as his home, our house.
Our “house” rules, the internet safety tips they WILL follow:
- Kids are not alone in the house without an adult present.
- = You should not go on the internet without an adult knowing and present.
- If someone knocks on the front door, you call an adult to answer. The adult will only open the door if they are expecting visitors.
- = If someone unknown contacts you online, do not reply, but come and get an adult.
- You never give out personal information to strangers in our neighborhood.
- = Never share information with people on the internet. Do not tell anyone where we live, our last name, where you go to school, names of your family members or phone numbers.
- The keys to the house are kept in a safe place.
- = Never share your password with anyone.
- We don’t have family pictures posted on the outside walls of our house, they are all kept inside.
- = Do not share photos or videos with anyone online without asking an adult.
- We do not buy things from strangers that show up unexpectedly at our front door.
- = Do not buy or download things from ads on the internet.
- You don’t just leave the house to go outside and play with people you don’t know.
- = Do not plan on meeting anyone from the internet without an adult’s approval and presence.
- If someone says hurtful things or acts in a mean way, you always come home and tell an adult.
- = Always tell an adult if you receive messages that hurt your feelings or make you uncomfortable.
- Your parents are always available at home to talk to you about anything that may have happened during the day.
- = Always talk to an adult about things you may have seen or experienced on the internet. We are always available.
(Wiping sweat off my brow)… Ok – so we both made it through our first “talk” and I think we did really well. He understood how important it is to stay safe while on the internet – because we wish to preserve our safety and privacy, as we do at home. Countless more “talks” to be had in the future, but one thing is certain, by the time I make it to Jonah (who isn’t even a year) I will be a pro at this!
(Don’t forget to check out the cell-phone rules that will keep your tween safe in the real world!)
Have you talked to your child about internet safety yet? How did you explain the internet in a way that he/ she understood it?