Tips for keeping your child safe online
As a parent, you already feel immense pressure to protect your child from any physical dangers they may encounter in their youth, so it can feel overwhelming trying to protect your child from online threats as well.
Unlike past generations, most of Generation Z (1996–2010) and Generation Alpha (2010–2025) have no concept of life without the internet. They were born in an era of constantly-evolving technology and have basically unfettered access to information, online resources, social media sites, and more.
No matter the generation, kids can be cruel, and being a victim of bullying can cause long-lasting effects on a child’s emotional development. Disclosure 1 Cyberbullying allows children to “hide” behind a screen, which emboldens them to say and do hurtful things they may not have the audacity to say or do in person. The internet also enables cruel and harmful content (e.g. messages, photos, videos) to be shared easily and spread quickly.
To help keep your child safe online and protect them from cyberbullying, here are a few tips to consider:
1. Make sure your child is ready to use the internet
With countless online games, learning tools, and even virtual school lessons, kids are starting to utilize the internet at younger ages. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94% of American children ages 3 to 18 have a computer at home and 61% have internet access at home. Disclosure 2
Just because it’s common for young children to have access to the internet, and even though it’s extremely easy to find interactive devices that use the internet, doesn’t mean your child is ready to be online. Make sure your child is mature enough to use the internet safely and respectfully. Set rules and limits around the internet, and check the privacy settings on the devices and apps your child is using.
2. Connect with them online
Learn how social media sites like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter work. Make your own accounts and connect with them on these apps so you can see what they’re posting and with whom they’re interacting online. The more you understand the technology your child is using, the better informed you are on how they should and should not be using it.
3. Teach them online etiquette
Make sure your child knows the basic rules of the internet, such as: don’t talk to strangers online, don’t give out any personal information, don’t forward mean or hurtful messages, use strong passwords, don’t give others your login info, etc.
It’s also very important that your child understands that once something is posted online, it’s there forever. This might seem like a hyperbolic statement, but with screenshots, screen recordings, and how data is stored online, it’s extremely difficult to fully erase something that’s been posted. Teach them to be mindful, intentional, and kind online. Explain to them that they shouldn’t post or share inappropriate, derogatory, or harmful photos or messages.
4. Foster an environment of trust and honesty
When establishing rules and time limits, discuss them with your child and take their suggestions into consideration. Kids are more likely to follow rules if they’re involved in setting them. Disclosure 1
Be open about online risks and your fears as a parent. Remind them that they can be honest with you and come to you for help if they ever encounter anything upsetting online. If they feel awkward discussing these issues with you, encourage them to talk to another adult that you both trust. Disclosure 3
5. Know how to respond to cyberbullying
If your child becomes a victim of cyberbullying, the first thing to do is reassure them that you love them and that you’ll get through it together. After comforting your child, make sure to take screenshots, save messages, and compile all evidence of cyberbullying so you have proof if needed. Neither you nor your child should respond to a cyberbully. Talk to your child’s school about their protocol for handling bullying, and go from there. Consider taking your child to a mental health professional if they need additional support.
Review your coverage
These are just a few strategies to help get parents started. We encourage you to explore additional tools and topics to decide how best to support your child. Make sure you have insurance coverage that can help protect your family and provide your child with any resources they may need, such as counseling. Our experienced professionals are here to help ensure you have the right amount of insurance coverage in place for your unique situation. Get in touch with your McGriff broker today if you have any questions.
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Parents Network, “How to Stop Cyberbullying: 18 Tips for Parents and Kids,” accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.parents.com/kids/problems/bullying/period-shaming-is-a-kind-of-bullying-parents-need-to-be-aware-of/
National Center for Education Statistics, “Computer and internet use,” accessed Aug 18, 2021, https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=46
Chubb, “9 Ways to Protect Your Kids from Cyberbullies,” accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.chubb.com/us-en/individuals-families/resources/9-ways-to-protect-your-kids-from-cyberbullies.html
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