Many of us were introduced to the internet as young adults or even later in life, but it’s important to consider another group that has easy access to the internet – young children and teens.
According to 2018 Pew Research data, 95% of teenagers report having access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online almost constantly. Younger children are also online more than they used to be. An April 2021 Pew Research study saw rising percentages of children between 5-11 using digital devices and social media sites.
While the internet can be a fantastic resource, it can also be a dangerous place for kids who don’t know better. The internet holds inappropriate content and malware, perpetuates scams and cyberbullying, and can hide sexual predators. To keep kids safe, it’s important to teach them some basic internet boundaries:
- Keep personal information private.
- Don’t talk to strangers or meet up with someone you’ve only met online.
- Tell a trusted adult about inappropriate or bullying messages.
- Don’t open emails or click links from someone you don’t know.
There are a host of websites, resources, and apps you can use to help keep your kids safe online. It’s important during this process to establish open, trusting communication with your kids. This will help them understand you’re trying to help them learn to navigate potentially treacherous waters and to feel comfortable sharing any suspicious online behavior with you.