As children and youth spend more time online, it is important that parents talk about online safety. Sometimes it is easy to feel scared by the number of things our children can be exposed to online. Still, most of us are online every day, and as parents, we have the responsibility to provide them with the tools to be as safe as possible!
Set limits and stick to them. Decide how much screen time is okay, what technology is allowed and at what age.
Create a Family Media Agreement together. The agreement is a collection of rules and responsibilities for household members to follow to receive media privileges. Allow your kids to have input into what this agreement could look like. It can help create a sense of accountability for everyone.
Use filters and controls. For younger children, ensure you use filters to block explicit materials from appearing in online search engines.
Have conversations about online relationships and cyberbullying. Let your child know they can come to talk to you if they feel unsafe or feel like someone they know may be in danger.
Talk to your child about privacy. Remind them not to share personal information or images of themselves with people they do not know. Remind them never to pressure anyone to send them images.
Create an environment that encourages openness. Let your child know that if they receive or someone shows them an image of someone or explicit materials, they can come and talk to you about it without getting in trouble or reprimanded.
Teach your child that everything stays on the internet. Remind them that anyone can screenshot a conversation or an image. They should engage in respectful, healthy relationships online as they do in person.
Use media and technology as teaching moments. If your child is watching a video, use it as an opportunity to ask them what they are seeing and learning from it. For example: did that relationship look consensual? What kind of bodies were represented in that video, and are they reflective of bodies we see in society? Etc. It’s an opportunity to talk about your family values and how media is not often a representation of the real world.
Provide opportunities for your child to become good digital citizens. Digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level.