Tips on online safety
Children of all ages have many opportunities for socializing online, but they come with certain risks. Parents can help reduce these risks by talking to kids about making safe, responsible decisions. The tools below are from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. They provide practical tips from the federal government and technology community to help spread the word about online safety.
- Cyberbullying - Cyberbullying is bullying or harassment that happens online. It can happen in an email, a text message, a game, or on a social networking site. It might involve spreading rumors or images posted on someone's profile or passed around for others to see, or creating a group or page to make a person feel left out.
- Kids and socializing online - Social networking sites, chat rooms, virtual worlds, and blogs are how teens and tweens socialize online; it's important to help your child learn how to navigate these spaces safely. Among the pitfalls that come with online socializing are sharing too much information or posting comments, photos, or videos that can damage a reputation or hurt someone's feelings. Applying real-world judgment can help minimize those risks.
- Kids and mobile devices - What age is appropriate for a child to have a mobile phone? That's something for individual families to decide. Consider the child’s age, personality, and maturity, and family circumstances. When parents decide their children are ready for a mobile phone, teach them to think about safety and responsibility.
- Kids and texting - Any child with a cell phone probably uses it to send and receive text messages and images. It's similar to using email or instant messaging and most of the same etiquette and safety rules apply.
Below are some of the many resources available to help keep our children safe in a wired and connected world.
- FBI Safe Online Surfing (SOS) - This nationwide initiative from the Federal Bureau of Investigation is designed to educate children about the dangers they face on the Internet and to help prevent crimes against children. It promotes cyber citizenship among students by engaging them in a fun, age-appropriate, competitive online program where they learn how to safely and responsibly use the Internet.
- NetSmartz Workshop - This is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators and law enforcement.
- Common Sense Media - This organization provides family media checklists that parents can use to guide conversations with their kids about media use. They are designed to help parents establish guidelines and expectations around media use and behavior that are appropriate for their families. Some families are comfortable using it as a signed agreement, while others prefer to use it simply as a checklist to guide conversations.
- Parents and children (grades K-5)
- Parents and children (grades 6-8)
- Parents and children (grades 9-12)
- The Common Sense - Scope & Sequence Tool has a variety of lessons for the home and classroom. These cross-curricular units spiral to address digital literacy and citizenship topics in an age-appropriate way. Browse by grade band or click a category to highlight the lessons that address that topic. Topics include internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communications, cyberbullying, drigtal footprint and reputation, self image and identity, information literacty and creative credit/copyright.
- Heads Up - Stop. Think. Connect. - This national public awareness campaign from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering people to be safer and more secure online.