10 Internet Rules For Young Kids That Prevent Bullying Later

How to set Internet rules that keep kids safe online

young girl and father on computer
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The Internet is a useful tool for kids. It has made researching topics faster and keeping in touch with friends and family easier. But without some guidelines in place, the Internet also can be a dangerous place. Kids can be exposed to predators, inappropriate material and cyberbullying. To keep your kids safe online, here are ten Internet safety rules that every parent should adopt for their family.

Adhere to age requirements. While it may seem harmless to allow your 11-year-old access to Instagram, the age requirements are put in place for a reason. Be sure you and your kids adhere to them. If a social media account indicates that a child must be at least 13-years-old to use the site, then do not allow your 11-year-old to have an account. And if your 13-year-old does not appear responsible enough to use social media responsibly, then have her wait a little longer before getting an account.

Keep personal information private. Be sure your kids do not share their last name, home address, birthday, social security numbers, school name or telephone number online. Remind them that just because someone asks for information does not mean they have to tell them anything. They should be especially careful about filling out online forms and documents and should only do so with your guidance.

Create generic screen names. When your child creates a screen name on Twitter, Instagram or other social networking sites, they should not include personal information like their last name, date of birth or other identifying information.

Keep screen names and generic as possible so that cyberbullies and mean girls will have trouble determining if the account belongs to your child.

Protect accounts with strong passwords. Teach your kids how to create strong passwords for all their accounts. Likewise, make sure that they also have different passwords for each account.

And be sure they know that they should never share their passwords with their friends. They also should get in the habit of logging out once they have completed a session. Keeping a social media account or email account open just opens the door for cyberbullies should they gain access to your child’s device.

Set rules regarding online friends. Start by discussing your policies about whom they can be friends with online. For instance, do you want them to accept friend requests from only people they know? Additionally, be sure they know how to block people that they do not want to see their information, especially kids who tend to bully others. Finally, remind your kids that they should never agree to meet anyone they have met online. Stress that sometimes people pretend to be someone they are not and that not everything they read online is true.

Say no to bullying. Be sure your kids do not send mean or insulting messages to other kids. They also should not “like,” “favorite,” or “share” other people’s mean and insulting messages.

And make sure they know that participating in name-calling or engaging in rumors and gossip online is not acceptable. It is also a good idea for kids to get in the habit of telling you or another adult anytime she witnesses online bullying.

Do not respond to mean messages. Make sure your kids know how to respond to cyberbullying. They should never respond to cruel, hurtful or intimidating messages or posts online. Doing so only gives the cyberbully what he wants – a reaction. Instead, be sure your child knows to report the activity to you and that she takes steps to block the bully.

Be a good digital citizen. Make sure your kids know that if they see something online that they know is wrong or makes them feel uncomfortable, that they report it. Additionally, they should always practice good digital etiquette skills. This means thinking before they hit send or post to social media. Remind them that nothing online is completely private. Anything can be copied and pasted elsewhere. What’s more, messages and e-mails can be forwarded. There is no guarantee that the people on the receiving are not going to use the information against you at some point.

Post photos sparingly. When your kids are first starting out online, they should never post photos or videos online without their parent’s permission. During these first years online, talk to them about selfies and the importance of limiting the number that they post. Additionally, discuss how pictures can give away personal information like where they live or go to school. For instance, a photo in their school’s spirit wear gives strangers a good idea of where your child goes to school. Likewise, a photo in front your house may display the house number for the world to see. Teach your kids to look at each photo critically and determine if it is appropriate to post online.

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