Tip: Talk to your children

These days, kids rapidly learn and understand more about the online world than their parents. That’s OK. You don’t have to know all the ins-and-outs of everything on the Internet to be able to educate your kids about staying safe online.

There are many general principles which stay the same regardless of what social media or web site is being used. They include:

  • not sharing personal information with anyone online they don’t know (or possibly at all, depending on risk factors);
  • not befriending or communicating with strangers;
  • being very careful with online text and particularly video chat;
  • telling you (their parent) if they encounter anyone or anything which upsets them or makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • telling you if anyone contacts them and says they are their ‘real’ family, birth mum/dad, biological relation (etc.) so you can help them deal with that (it may be true, it may be a hoax, but it needs to be handled sensitively and with your help.)

Certainly for younger children, and even teens, having a family computer in a communal part of the house may help, although with the rise in mobile devices this isn’t a total solution. I certainly don’t advocate avoiding technology — children will find a way to use it regardless.