Playing It Safe: Tips for Parents on Cyber Safety

Children (5-13)
• Enforce the age requirements for sites. Children must be at least thirteen to join Facebook.

• Have your children share their passwords with you.

• Periodically review your children’s e-mails and web history.

• Pay attention to signs of “grooming,” which is when someone initiates online contact with a young person with the intention of establishing a sexual relationship. Signs often include letters, gifts and phone calls from an unknown number.

• If you suspect signs of “grooming,” notify the police.

• Encourage your children to talk to you if there is someone or something making them uncomfortable.

• Teach your kids never to share personal information such as their name, age, address, phone number, school or social security number.

• Set limits for how much time your children spend online.

• Tell your children never to meet someone they met online in person.

•Visit to learn more about Internet safety.

Teens (13-17)
• Become familiar with the social media sites your teens are on.

• “Friend” your teens on Facebook, which will allow you to see who their friends are and what they’re posting.

• Make sure your teens know how to use privacy settings; then check to make sure that they’re using them.

• Create a news alert for your teens’ names on Google, Yahoo and MSN, which will allow you to protect their digital identities. Anyone can post a comment or tag them in an embarrassing photo; kids cannot control their friends’ behavior.

• Talk to your teens about what is appropriate and not appropriate to share. Remind your teens that what they post may stay in cyberspace forever, and can pop up at the most unexpected times.

• Spend time with your kids online. Get to know their favorite sites and online friends as you would their offline ones.

• Use blocking software.

• Keep the computer in a public area of the house. Do not allow younger children or teens to have Internet-accessible computers in their bedrooms.

• Tell your teens not to accept friend requests from people he or she doesn’t know well.

• Teach your teens proper online behavior. If they wouldn’t say something in person, they shouldn’t say it online.

• Talk to your kids about the dangers of cyberbullying.

This article was featured in the Fall 2012 issue of Jewish Action.
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