How to keep your kids safe online

Due to COVID-19, kids and adults are online more than ever, often unsupervised in the same space.

Help kids stay safe.

How to keep your kids safe online

How to keep your kids safe online

Parents should stay involved in their children’s digital world, know the apps they use, use parental controls where possible, and block and report people who make them feel uncomfortable.

Kids should talk with a trusted adult so they understand online risks, only chat with people they know, ensure their online accounts are private, block people they don’t know or trust, and trust their instinct—if something makes them feel uncomfortable, tell a trusted adult about it.

Kids and parents should stay alert—people aren’t always who they seem in online environments where identity is easy to fake.

Stay safe at home. Stay safe online.

To report an online child sexual exploitation offense, call 911 or go to report.cybertip.org.

Tips to help protect children

Due to school closings, stay-at-home orders, and hybrid learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s increased online presence may put them at greater risk of child exploitation. Parents, guardians, caregivers, and teachers can take the following measures to help protect children from becoming victims of online child predators .

How to keep your kids safe online

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeps us living more of our lives online than ever before. We urge you to continue to be extra vigilant about digital security—for you and your kids—as increased use can mean increased risk.

Find out how much Americans trust online tech, apps, and companies in our updated Consumer Tech Trust Survey.

Keeping teens safe is hard enough in the physical world, let alone the cyberworld of social media, texting, online gaming, and online predators. But you don’t have to stand by and hope for the best—you can take action to help keep your teen safe as they navigate the internet. Learn about the top cyberthreats for teens, and use our list of tips to increase online safety for the whole family.

The Top Online Threats for Teens

The internet is a labyrinth where good information and fun websites can get corrupted by hackers and other cybercriminals. When it comes to protecting kids, your first line of defense is understanding the twists and turns awaiting your teen when they enter this tricky landscape. Here’s a look at the top online risks and what they can mean for your teen.

  • Cyberbullying: Young people have a long history of picking on one another, but today the taunts and abuse don’t stop at the high school’s doors. Social media, email, texting, and instant messaging (IM) can invade your teen’s world 24/7. Sadly, there are multiple accounts where cyberbullying has led to suicide.
  • Sexting: Whether it’s sending or receiving photos (or suggestive banter), sexting can lead to a lot of trouble. Depending on how far it goes and whether or not swapped pics remain private, sexting can result in consequences ranging from severe reputation damage to child pornography charges.
  • Identity theft: It might seem strange to worry about identity theft when your teen doesn’t have any credit or assets to steal. But cybercriminals like to take a teen’s blank slate of credit and open up accounts that can follow your child for years to come. The damage can impact your teen’s future by making it harder to do things like buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a job.
  • Pornography: Exposure to pornography can have a lasting impact and hamper your teen’s ability to form healthy, loving relationships in the future. It creates unrealistic expectations that may impact self-esteem and confuse a teenager’s understanding of romantic relationships.
  • Online predators: Online predators often pose as peers in an attempt to connect with potential victims. They can show up on social networks, chat rooms, and other online environments. Many predators attempt to groom teens for sexual exploitation or human trafficking. But a growing number of online predators aim to radicalize children for extreme political or religious groups.

6 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe Online

Once you understand the types of threats lurking in the internet’s shadows, you can take action to minimize the risks to your teen. These tips lay a strong foundation of defense against the worst internet threats.

1. Talk about It

Communication is the key to keeping your teen safe online and in the real world. Whether your child is in the preteen years or just celebrated their sweet 16, it’s never too early (or too late) to start talking to them about internet safety.

Let your teenager know the online threats you’re concerned about, and discuss how to steer clear of them. By starting a dialogue about internet safety with your teen, you also pave the way for them to come to you when something strange or scary happens.

2. Set Up Ground Rules

Clearly outline your expectations for online behavior, and identify internet safety rules that will help protect your teen. Include things like sharing email accounts and online usernames and passwords. Identify social networking sites and apps that are safe to use and others that are off limits. Check out more safe internet practices below.

  • Don’t share personal information online, including your full name, address, phone number, and Social Security number.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Don’t let anyone else use your phone, laptop, or tablet.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
  • Don’t open emails from unknown senders.
  • Don’t click on links or download anything without first clearing it with an adult.
  • Don’t share photos online or through texts or IMs.

3. Keep Things Out in the Open

Store computers, laptops, tablets, and phones in a central place in your home where you can monitor activity and enforce other boundaries.

Set limits for screen time, including time spent on a smartphone, online gaming, or any other web-based activity your kids are into. Teach them to stay away from strangers on the internet—whether it’s an email from an unknown source, a suspicious link, or a friend request they don’t recognize. If they’re unsure, encourage them to run things by you so you can decide together whether something is safe or not.

Like conversations about washing hands and staying home, talk to teens about protecting themselves when they’re online during this pandemic. Reinforce basic ground rules, then add on.

Remind them not to click on links in emails—even if they claim to be from the CDC or WHO. Reinforce the importance of keeping private info private. Show them how to update their devices and how it protects them. Talk to them about why you set parental controls and how those keep them safe.

4. Put Protections in Place

Use a parental control filter to help limit your teen’s exposure to inappropriate content. Parental controls can give you valuable intel on your child’s online activities and alert you to potential red flags.

How to keep your kids safe online

The internet is home to some of the best resources available. It’s become a crucial component of education, with children spending more time online than ever before. Technology is a powerful tool that increases accessibility, encourages research, and provides communication channels on a global scale. As children’s access to the worldwide platform continues to grow, internet safety continues to remain front and center.

To help improve your child’s online safety, here are ten ways to keep your children safe online:

Talk to your children about bullying

Nearly 90% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a problem online, with almost 60% of children experiencing some form personally through social media. With students flocking to popular social media apps, embarrassing moments are recorded, secrets are shared, and comments are made effortlessly.

Talking to your children about online interactions and daily activities can open the door to sensitive topics like bullying. Help your child understand the damaging impact bullying can have on an individual’s life and encourage them to speak up if something is shared that makes them uncomfortable. Finally, encourage your child to report bullying that occurs to a parent, teacher, or trusted adult.

Monitor social media and texting

While social media is meant to connect and communicate, staying safe online is crucial to your child’s safety. All social media platforms contain a recommended age for use. Common platforms like Facebook prohibit users under 13, while TikTok has a suggested age of 16. Avoid social media channels that offer disappearing chats or messages. There is no way to monitor the messages after removal. Instead, occasionally browse through your child’s social media accounts and texting. Look for any unfamiliar accounts, inappropriate messages, or adult interactions.

Download a High-Quality Antivirus Program

Unfortunately, many children tend to take internet popups at face value, particularly when it comes to malware, scams, or internet security. For example, a child that sees an ad for access to a free game, special prizes, or special features is more likely to interact with the ad than an adult (although plenty of adults still fall victim too).

To protect your child’s technology from a malicious attack, install a high-quality firewall and anti-virus program. Explain how scams work and how to evaluate whether their honest or too good to be true.

Help them Identify Personal Boundaries

Most children don’t understand the concept of personal and social boundaries. As a result, they may share confidential content online, including personally identifiable information. Sharing private photos, school information, vacation plans, or other identifying information can all lead to problems down the road.

Have an honest conversation with your children about how their information is found. Describe how this info is harvested, what can be done with it, and how to establish boundaries online. Explain how to prevent these details from being disclosed. This includes limiting personal details online, censoring any identifiable information in photos with an editor, and never sharing family information without permission.

Discuss Catfishing and Impersonation

Deception isn’t on children’s radar, especially when playing a game or chatting with peers. Catfishing is the act of pretending to be someone they’re not, typically for financial or another material gain. It can also occur when grooming a child for trafficking. The account holder tries to gain access to social media, gaming, or financial accounts.

Talk to your children about who they interact with online. Never share personal information online, including your first and last name. Never allow your children to add people they don’t know to social media. This condition includes “gaming” friends. Explain how a stranger might use photos posted to identify personal details about their life, including local check-ins and addresses.

How to keep your kids safe online

Educate Children on Phishing Attempts

Emails and text messages that sound legitimate can confuse children, especially when the sender appears to be a close friend or family member. These messages will include an abbreviated link to a website, often collecting personal information. Teach children to always ask permission before clicking on a link. Encourage children to confirm external links with the sender before opening and let them know most people don’t send random messages without explanation. If you believe your child’s information has been compromised, performing a free background check using a website like UnMask can offer both parent and child peace of mind.

Avoid Financial Compromise

Always talk to children and teens about online security when it comes to purchases online. Teach them to make educated purchases by looking up website reviews before buying anything. Try to prevent purchases from sites without SSL Encryption. SSL Encryption will jumble any personal information into an incoherent sequence during purchase, safeguarding your financial details. Teach teens to look up website reviews online before making a purchase.

Track Activity Online

Young children typically enjoy gaming platforms and YouTube, but both avenues can quickly spiral into adult content if left unsupervised. Insist that all browsing or gaming occurs in a common area. Occasionally check-in with children while they’re playing and ask them about the game. See who they’re talking to and what games they enjoy most. If your Gmail account is connected to YouTube, you’ll be able to track the viewing history when they’re finished watching shows.

Determine Appropriate Platforms for Socializing

It seems like every week brings a new social media platform or online trend. “Influencers” and “YouTube Stars” influence the way children interact online, from their games to the platforms they use to chat. Confirm the app or game your child wants is age-appropriate while still giving them the freedom to choose. Watch a few YouTube videos with young children to ensure they’re acceptable. Keep an eye out for popular trends (looking at you, Tide Pod challenge) that pose health and safety risks. Talk to your teen about how dangerous following trends can be, including physical or mental ramifications.

Track Phone Activity

You don’t need to have key-logging software to track your child’s phone activity. Many phones have built-in GPS functionality, complete with parental controls. Many apps for supervision can monitor usage without disclosing private conversations or the screen of the device. You’ll be able to see what apps your child is using, how long they’re on the device and the device’s physical location. For younger children, most apps also include device time limits, shut-off functionality, and the ability to ban websites, apps, or programs, if needed.

Children present unique security risks when they use a computer—not only do you have to keep them safe, you have to protect the data on your computer. By taking some simple steps, you can dramatically reduce the threats.

What unique risks are associated with children?

When a child is using your computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children present additional challenges because of their natural characteristics: innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment. You need to consider these characteristics when determining how to protect your data and the child.

You may think that because the child is only playing a game, or researching a term paper, or typing a homework assignment, they can’t cause any harm. But what if, when saving their paper, the child deletes a necessary program file? Or what if they unintentionally visit a malicious web page that infects your computer with a virus? These are just two possible scenarios. Mistakes happen, but children may not realize what they’ve done or may not tell you what happened because they’re afraid of getting punished.

Online predators present another significant threat, particularly to children. Because the nature of the internet is so anonymous, it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate or trick other users (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for some examples). Adults often fall victim to these ploys, and children, who are usually much more open and trusting, are even easier targets. Another growing problem is cyberbullying. These threats are even greater if a child has access to email or instant messaging programs, visits chat rooms, and/or uses social networking sites.

What can you do?

  • Be involved – Consider activities you can work on together, whether it be playing a game, researching a topic you had been talking about (e.g., family vacation spots, a particular hobby, a historical figure), or putting together a family newsletter. This will allow you to supervise your child’s online activities while teaching them good computer habits.
  • Keep your computer in an open area – If your computer is in a high-traffic area, you will be able to easily monitor the computer activity. Not only does this accessibility deter children from doing something they know they’re not allowed to do, it also gives you the opportunity to intervene if you notice a behavior that could have negative consequences.
  • Set rules and warn about dangers – Make sure your child knows the boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer. These boundaries should be appropriate for the child’s age, knowledge, and maturity, but they may include rules about how long they are allowed to be on the computer, what sites they are allowed to visit, what software programs they can use, and what tasks or activities they are allowed to do.

Additional information

The following resources offer additional information about protecting children online:

Children are more like to fall for scams online, an expert says

By Kristi Nelson and Eva Parks • Published October 25, 2021 • Updated on October 25, 2021 at 6:36 pm

Playing games, making videos and texting can be fun ways for children to connect with their friends online, but they can also have a downside.

Kids are more likely to fall for scams,” said the interim executive director at the National Cybersecurity Alliance, Lisa Plaggemier.

“Parents can be really squeamish about checking kids’ phones,” Plaggemier said. “They don’t want to violate their child’s privacy but the reality is, especially with all the social media apps, they know exactly what your child is up to. So, I think you should know too.”

Matthew DeSarno is the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Dallas and said he wants parents to understand what their kids are doing online.

“It’s important to educate yourself about the websites, software, games and apps that your children use,” he said. “I think it’s important to check their social media and gaming profiles; frequently look at their posts, their photos; have conversations about what is and is not appropriate to share.”

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How to keep your kids safe online

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How to keep your kids safe online

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The pandemic forced screen time much earlier in children’s lives than some parents may have wanted. So, Plaggemier encouraged checking security settings on their devices.

“Sit down with your child, open the app, go to the settings and set those things in ways that you feel comfortable,” she said.

An important setting to check is the location setting on a child’s phone. Plaggemier suggested turning that off.

“I think the most important advice for parents is to have open, ongoing conversations about safe and appropriate online behavior,” DeSarno said.

Starting an open dialogue about some of the dangers online and creating simple rules can help keep kids safe.

It’s really great to have a rule, that unless you’ve met somebody IRL – -in real life — you might not want to be corresponding with them online,” Plaggemier said.

A 2018 study produced by Javelin Strategy & Research showed more than 1 million kids fell victim to identity theft with losses totaling more than $2.6 billion. That same study found more than two-thirds of child victims were under 7 years old.

“Kids identities are worth a lot on the black market. You’ve got a fresh Social Security number potentially from a child and a clean credit history or no credit history and bad guys take that information,” Plaggemier said. “Your child might not realize that their identity has been compromised in any way until they’re older and they go to apply for their first credit card.”

If you have a young child at home, Plaggemier suggests parents take this extra step.

If your 2-year-old isn’t applying for credit cards or buying a car any time lately, then I highly recommend putting a credit freeze on your kid’s Social Security numbers with the credit bureau,” Plaggemier said.

The ID Theft Resource Center has detailed instructions for how to freeze your child’s credit here.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our Customer Complaint form.

How to keep your kids safe online

As children are increasingly targeted in online attacks, parents must take steps to instill secure computing habits and protect their kids’ devices. Here are 6 tips for keeping your kids safe online.

Children are using computer technology and internet-connected devices at younger ages than ever. Unfortunately, the risks associated with being online will not wait just because they are young or because they are your children. Recent data breaches at toy manufacturer VTech (one of the worst data breaches of last year) and parental information company uKnowKids have exposed children’s information and made online safety for children a top concern for parents everywhere.

In the attack on VTech, a single 21-year-old hacker managed to breach the toymaker’s security, leading to the theft of information on over 11 million accounts. Most of these accounts belonged to children and the attack exposed kids’ IP addresses, histories, personal information and other information on their parents. They could also find out the birthdate, name and gender of any child who had an account.

The data breach at uKnowKids exposed even more sensitive information on children, as uKnowKids produces software that allows parents to monitor their kids’ communication and location information. In that incident, about 1,700 children had information ranging from social media details to GPS coordinates exposed due to a misconfigured database that was openly accessible over the internet. For a window of at least 48 days, anyone could theoretically access those children’s text messages and their exact location. While the researcher who discovered the exposed database notified the company immediately, the incident revealed the security risks associated with collecting and storing information on children online.

How to keep your kids safe online

For parents, these incidents are bringing concerns over children’s safety and privacy online to the forefront. Parents today need to make sure they’re doing everything possible to educate their children on safe online habits and are accounting for the security of devices that their children use. Here are a few ways to help keep your kids safe online.

Use a Virtual Private Network

If you want to prevent your location from being tracked and protect your family on any network, the best thing to do is to get a Virtual Private Network. It connects your device to an offsite secure server and uses an encrypted connection to keep your data safe on that connection.

There are two main benefits to using a VPN. The first is that is masks your IP address, meaning that your children’s location cannot be tracked online. The second is that the encrypted connection protects your family on risky public networks so information cannot be intercepted. While you may not be able to get a VPN connected to every toy in your house, you can at least get one for your (or their) smartphone, computers, and other common devices.

Practice Basic Security Hygiene

Your children having a safe online experience starts with you having a safe online experience. This means keeping your computer in top shape when it comes to security and building secure habits online. Install a reputable anti-virus solution to make sure that your computer is clear of common viruses and malware. Other necessary steps include having strong passwords, updating the OS and all software regularly, and never downloading untrustworthy materials. Train yourself and your children on how to recognize common social engineering methods as well such as email or social media phishing.

Know Their Skill Level

If you have a better understanding of how good your children really are with computers and technology, then you will be better able to teach them about how to be safe online. For young children or children who aren’t familiar with computers, it may be worth getting them started with computer toys such as those created by LeapFrog or VTech. Once you’re confident in your kids’ computing experience, you can have them move on to more adult devices that have more protection options available to them.

Know Who They’re Talking To

If your children are old enough to be talking to people online, then know who those people are. If they are classmates, relatives or neighborhood kids, it is probably fine, but strangers or someone who could be pretending to be a friend to your child in order to get close to them could mean serious danger for your children. Be on the lookout for cyberbullying or people impersonating friends and family – it unfortunately happens more often than you may think.

There are social networks designed specifically for children that allow them to learn how to communicate online in a safe environment. Another option is to talk to other parents and arrange for a pen pal for your child. The more good options you give them, the fewer bad options they will consider taking.

Teach Them the Basics

No matter how old your children are, if they are using a computer, then they should know a few things, such as what a computer looks like when it is not working, simple electrical safety and that you should never give away any personal information online (go over what that might be). Show them what the security programs you run are, and explain to your children why they are important. Do the same with anything else you consider vital on the computer.

Explain to them that you will not be angry if something happens, and that if people approach them online, it is not their fault. Mention that even safety measures fail sometimes and that it is a bad idea to trust anything more than you when it comes to the computer. Make yourself a safe person to talk about computers with, and encourage your children to ask you any questions they might have.

How to keep your kids safe online

Use Parental Blocks

Parental blocks are still useful for a younger child to keep them away from illicit content and accidentally stumbling into something dangerous. While you can try buying a program, it might be easier to see if your browser has any options available before pulling out your wallet. Attentiveness and strategy will always trump technology when it comes to protecting your children.

If you are worried about the possibilities of that same program or setting affecting you, then try to use a different browser than your children or have a different account on the computer to login to. Not giving them administrator access to your computer is a good idea regardless.

No one can expect perfect security no matter how much they want it, but in some cases, privacy and security breaches are preventable with the right measures and protections in place. Following these steps and instilling secure computer habits in your children from an early age can go a long way in keeping children safe online.

Cassie Phillips is a blogger for SecureThoughts. Follow her on Twitter @securethoughtsc.

How to keep your kids safe online

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic keeps us living more of our lives online than ever before. We urge you to continue to be extra vigilant about digital security—for you and your kids—as increased use can mean increased risk.

Find out how much Americans trust online tech, apps, and companies in our updated Consumer Tech Trust Survey.

Keeping teens safe is hard enough in the physical world, let alone the cyberworld of social media, texting, online gaming, and online predators. But you don’t have to stand by and hope for the best—you can take action to help keep your teen safe as they navigate the internet. Learn about the top cyberthreats for teens, and use our list of tips to increase online safety for the whole family.

The Top Online Threats for Teens

The internet is a labyrinth where good information and fun websites can get corrupted by hackers and other cybercriminals. When it comes to protecting kids, your first line of defense is understanding the twists and turns awaiting your teen when they enter this tricky landscape. Here’s a look at the top online risks and what they can mean for your teen.

  • Cyberbullying: Young people have a long history of picking on one another, but today the taunts and abuse don’t stop at the high school’s doors. Social media, email, texting, and instant messaging (IM) can invade your teen’s world 24/7. Sadly, there are multiple accounts where cyberbullying has led to suicide.
  • Sexting: Whether it’s sending or receiving photos (or suggestive banter), sexting can lead to a lot of trouble. Depending on how far it goes and whether or not swapped pics remain private, sexting can result in consequences ranging from severe reputation damage to child pornography charges.
  • Identity theft: It might seem strange to worry about identity theft when your teen doesn’t have any credit or assets to steal. But cybercriminals like to take a teen’s blank slate of credit and open up accounts that can follow your child for years to come. The damage can impact your teen’s future by making it harder to do things like buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a job.
  • Pornography: Exposure to pornography can have a lasting impact and hamper your teen’s ability to form healthy, loving relationships in the future. It creates unrealistic expectations that may impact self-esteem and confuse a teenager’s understanding of romantic relationships.
  • Online predators: Online predators often pose as peers in an attempt to connect with potential victims. They can show up on social networks, chat rooms, and other online environments. Many predators attempt to groom teens for sexual exploitation or human trafficking. But a growing number of online predators aim to radicalize children for extreme political or religious groups.

6 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe Online

Once you understand the types of threats lurking in the internet’s shadows, you can take action to minimize the risks to your teen. These tips lay a strong foundation of defense against the worst internet threats.

1. Talk about It

Communication is the key to keeping your teen safe online and in the real world. Whether your child is in the preteen years or just celebrated their sweet 16, it’s never too early (or too late) to start talking to them about internet safety.

Let your teenager know the online threats you’re concerned about, and discuss how to steer clear of them. By starting a dialogue about internet safety with your teen, you also pave the way for them to come to you when something strange or scary happens.

2. Set Up Ground Rules

Clearly outline your expectations for online behavior, and identify internet safety rules that will help protect your teen. Include things like sharing email accounts and online usernames and passwords. Identify social networking sites and apps that are safe to use and others that are off limits. Check out more safe internet practices below.

  • Don’t share personal information online, including your full name, address, phone number, and Social Security number.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Don’t let anyone else use your phone, laptop, or tablet.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
  • Don’t open emails from unknown senders.
  • Don’t click on links or download anything without first clearing it with an adult.
  • Don’t share photos online or through texts or IMs.

3. Keep Things Out in the Open

Store computers, laptops, tablets, and phones in a central place in your home where you can monitor activity and enforce other boundaries.

Set limits for screen time, including time spent on a smartphone, online gaming, or any other web-based activity your kids are into. Teach them to stay away from strangers on the internet—whether it’s an email from an unknown source, a suspicious link, or a friend request they don’t recognize. If they’re unsure, encourage them to run things by you so you can decide together whether something is safe or not.

Like conversations about washing hands and staying home, talk to teens about protecting themselves when they’re online during this pandemic. Reinforce basic ground rules, then add on.

Remind them not to click on links in emails—even if they claim to be from the CDC or WHO. Reinforce the importance of keeping private info private. Show them how to update their devices and how it protects them. Talk to them about why you set parental controls and how those keep them safe.

4. Put Protections in Place

Use a parental control filter to help limit your teen’s exposure to inappropriate content. Parental controls can give you valuable intel on your child’s online activities and alert you to potential red flags.

How to keep your kids safe online

Just as we strive to keep our kids safe every time they cross the street or go to the playground, it’s up to us as parents to keep them safe online, too. From classic common sense to the era’s latest parental control apps like Qustodio, read on for 10 ways to manage healthy digital diets for the whole family.

How to keep your kids safe online

1. Model a well-balanced tech lifestyle.
Like everything else we teach our kids, we start by showing them: how to walk, how to use a spoon, and—as we take photo number 5,428 in a constant chronicle of their young lives—how to use tech. If we never bring our phones to the dinner table, we may avoid future power struggles about screen-free spaces. If we step away from checking email when we know it’s time to power down for the day, they will see how much we value connecting “in real life” and will have loads of practice when it’s time for them to manage their own “online” and “IRL” lives.

2. Talk about why screen time needs to be monitored.
When we expect our kids to make their beds or clear the table, we are teaching the personal responsibility they will need to lead independent and organized lives. If they understand the dangers associated with tech use, they may be more motivated to maintain a safe online space as well—with privacy settings, thinking before they post, and doing their best not to let online activities hamper their physical activity or emotional health.

How to keep your kids safe online

3. Come to an agreement on the amount of screentime they’ll have.
After adding up watching shows, using the computer for homework, as well as any phone, app, or game use, decide together what a healthy amount of screentime might be. For guidance, turn to parental control app Qustodio, a true hub of data and info., via both an online dashboard and Parents’ App, that makes it easy to understand what kids are up to on various devices and help them make smart choices—a skill they always need IRL too. Rather than just preventing or logging screen time use, Qustodio puts you in the driving seat with various cross-platform functionalities while helping you advocate for an open and healthy digital lifestyle for the whole family.

Learn more about Qustodio and download the app for free here.

4. Give your kids agency—and accountability.
Setting rules for and as a family also ensures your kids feel part of the process. Go a step further and outsource some of the rule making: download a digital contract that everyone in the family can sign with a sense of ownership and abide by if rules are broken.

How to keep your kids safe online

5. Keep up your digital fluency.
Check in with the latest findings and age-appropriate recommendations from the World Health Organization about sedentary behaviors like screen time. Discover the content that can add value to our children’s lives when they are online with the help of trusted organizations like Common Sense Media. And just as you have an eye on the horizon for your child’s next developmental milestones, think about what your elementary school kid might be interested in as a tween (we suggest reading educator Ana Homayoun’s Social Media Wellness: Helping Teens and Tweens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World.)

6. Remind them of natural—and irreversible—consequences.
The internet doesn’t come with a giant “delete” option, and kids should know what might result from conducting online lives unchecked. Share the news when Harvard acceptances are revoked because of poor or offensive online choices. Talk about it. As your kids start using social media especially, see if they open up about their own online etiquette or gauge their thoughts about what their friends post.

How to keep your kids safe online

7. Decide which apps you’re comfortable with them using.
Maybe you’re OK with YouTube, but not TikTok. Or vice versa. Either way, be explicit about which apps your kids may or may not be allowed to use. Qustodio also makes it easy to stay up to speed on what your kids are doing online (you can even see exactly what they are searching for and watching on YouTube, too).

As parents we often love data, and that is just what Qustodio delivers, from reports on internet activity to child location capability. Qustodio also gives added peace of mind with the ability to set limits on games and apps, monitor social media use, block inappropriate content in real-time, all while providing the talking points and questions to ask to maintain open communication about device use.

Learn more about Qustodio and download the app for free here.

How to keep your kids safe online

8. Continue to watch with them.
Just as our kids learn from watching us, we can learn a lot from watching them. Sit down together for their current favorite movie or check in on homework. See how they navigate online, what websites they visit, and what they want to watch. You may learn something new while continuing to encourage that spirit of openness.

9. Check in with other parents.
As kids conduct increasingly independent lives at school and with friends, you can expect them to be one step (or several) ahead of your own experiences—and device-use is a whole new frontier. Talking to parents, especially with older kids, about what they have dealt with in the digital landscape (i.e. “finsta” accounts) will help us meet our kids where they’ll need us.

How to keep your kids safe online

10. Don’t forget a digital detox!
Unplug! Go screen free! Get outside! Encourage it as a family and individually. Be it a certain hour of the day or day of the week, make it a habit to disconnect in order to reconnect.

Learn more about Qustodio and download the app for free here.