How to Talk to Kids about Internet Safety

By on 12-13-2012

father and son looking at laptop togetherAs a parent, one of the most important parts of your job is to keep your kids safe. In the 21st century, this task can be especially challenging since you not only have to keep your kids safe in the “real” world, but in the virtual one as well.

Parental control apps like Qustodio can greatly reduce the chance of your child encountering danger online, but the guidance of a caring parent really makes a big difference.

Talking about Internet safety can be a challenge in itself, however, unless you’re adequately prepared for the conversation. Here are some tips for making this potentially uncomfortable discussion easier for you and more meaningful for your child.

 Be Proactive

One of the biggest mistakes parents make when talking to their kids about Internet safety is waiting until there’s a problem to approach the subject. By being proactive instead of reactive, you have the opportunity to teach your child about safe Internet use before he’s exposed to dangers like violent content, cyberbullying, online predators, and more. Furthermore, having this conversation before an unfortunate incident occurs will make it a more comfortable experience for everyone and prevent your child from feeling like he’s being punished.

 Be Reasonable

Some parents are so fearful of the many online threats to their child’s safety that they are reluctant to let their kids use the Internet at all. The Web has become such an integral part of our day-to-day lives that banning the Internet altogether is nearly impossible and probably not advisable either. After all, your child will eventually have unrestricted access to the online world, so it’s better to teach her the rules of the road now before sending her out on the information highway unprepared. As you’re laying down guidelines for your youngster’s Internet use, remember that the more reasonable you are, the more receptive she will be.

Be Clear

Perhaps the most important thing you can do during your conversation with your child about Internet safety is to be clear. Make sure your child knows exactly how he can and cannot use the Web. Let him know precisely what the consequences will be if he decides to break the rules, so that there’s no chance of confusion.

Internet safety can be a sensitive topic, but if you approach the conversation calmly and with a clear goal in mind, you can help your child understand the importance of using the Internet safely and responsibly.