As we’ve talking about over the past few weeks, sometimes we need help (OK, let’s be real… a lot of help) talking to our kids about being safe online. If you missed our last two posts of conversation starters, check out part 1 here and part 2 here, and to continue the conversation, consider using some of these conversation starters with your kids.
Do any of your friends talk to strangers online? Do you have “friends” online that you don’t know? Has an online “friend” ever (talked about sex, asked for personal information, offered to send you gifts, said things that make you uncomfortable, etc.)?
Talk to your teens about the definition of “friend”. Ultimately, a friend is someone you know well and can trust. The online world has blurred the meaning and definition of a friend. It is important to understand the difference—if your child cannot provide solid information as to how they know a person, decide if the person should be included in your IM buddy or friend lists. If you, as a parent do not approve, delete the user name and block that user.
Do you know of anyone who has been asked to send sexual pictures or who has been solicited for sex online? What did they do?
Some children will answer this question, some won’t. Don’t force an answer to this question; creating a comfortable atmosphere for your child to be willing to discuss the subject IS the point. You are not asking the child if he or she has been solicited directly, just if they know someone who has. You may feel that you can ask your child if they have had this experience, but overall, questions like this one help the child begin thinking about the subject and formulate plans incase it does happen. You are also making the point that’s it’s okay for the child to talk with you about it without repercussions.
What if you found out someone was stalking you. What would you do differently on the Web? Would you remove anything from your blog/social networking page/profile?
Overall, a great safety tip for teens is to assume that there are predators/stalkers/cyberbullies out there, and they are trying to find them based on the information they have posted online. It’s good to talk to them about what information on their profile identifies who they are, where they hang out, where they live.
For more on protecting your kids online, see our parent resources here.