You probably have a list of things to get done before your kids get back to school. It may include getting school supplies, figuring out carpools, and scheduling afterschool programs.
There’s one more thing we hope you can squeeze into your list – talking to your kids about being safe online.
Your kids are probably online all throughout the year, but during the school year they may be more connected – at the library, at school and at home.
The good news is that it’s easy to have these conversations– whether you’re a techie or not.
Here are some ways to make these conversations easy and painless.
- Use everyday opportunities to talk to your kids about being online. For example, news stories about cyberbullying or texting while driving can spur a conversation with kids about their experiences and your expectations.
- Communicate your expectations and how they apply in an online context. Sharing your values clearly can help your kids make smarter and more thoughtful decisions when they face tricky situations. For instance, be specific about what’s off-limits — and what you consider to be unacceptable behavior.
- Resist the urge to rush through these conversations with your kids. Most kids need to hear information repeated, in small doses, for it to sink in. If you keep talking with your kids, your patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.
- Work hard to keep the lines of communication open, even if you learn your kid has done something online that you find inappropriate. Listening and taking their feelings into account helps keep conversations afloat. You may not have all the answers, and being honest about that can go a long way.
For more tips on talking with your kids about online safety, visit ftc.gov/kidsonline.