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Teaching Kids About Online Safety

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TeachingkidsonlinesafetyYou probably read or hear about how dangerous the Internet can be all the time, which can drive many fears in parents. But if used and taught properly, the Internet can be an amazing tool. What's the best way to successfully teach your kids about online safety?

Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, MD and author of the new book How to Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate, says that we should constantly teach our kids about online safety as they get older, from as young as age three to college years. Ready to have the Internet talk with your kids and teens? Follow Gilboa’s advice so you can be on the road to success. 

What Age Should You Talk to Kids About the Internet? 

Dr. Deborah Gilboa says you could start young, even at the age of 3, but there’s no definitive answer since every child and their maturity level is different. At 3 years old, children may first start to explore the Internet. “Tell them not to click anything unless they’ve asked you - just like if you were in a store, not to touch anything without asking,” Gilboa advises. “That lets them know they need to be safe.” Once your kids ask you about the Internet and if they can use it, that’s the time to start having the talk.

She also says it’s not gender skewed. The Internet can be just as dangerous for boys and girls. Many of the social media networks require the person signing up to be at least 13 years old, says Gilboa. But if you let your child under the age requirement sign up, you’re basically telling them it’s okay to lie. “It’s a learning process. Parents need to keep track of what’s going on,” she adds. 

How to Teach Them to be Safe 

“Tell them to never send anything they wouldn’t want to see on a poster at school. If they’d be okay with it, they can send it,” she says. She also says parents should engage with their child’s online usage. “Privacy is earned so ask to see their pages. Sometimes kids don’t want to ‘talk’ so parents will leave it alone, but they shouldn’t,” she says. Engage with them online. 

Dr. G’s Best Tips 

  • Do not share any personal information with anyone online.
  • You don’t know who you are talking to online so don’t believe what everyone says. 
  • Behave online as you would in person. 
  • Ask your kids to teach you about Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. “Ask good questions. Kids like to be experts, especially when it comes to the Internet,” says Gilboa. This is a good way to be involved in what they’re doing online. 
  • In terms of bullying, ask your kids what they have seen or the worst thing they have read online or heard. 
  • If your child abuses their privilege of using the Internet, don’t say they are banned. “Instead, say, ‘let’s talk about what supervision to give you so you’re ready,’” Gilboa advises. 

To learn more about Dr. Deborah Gilboa and to get the best parenting tips, head to her website at www.askdrg.com.

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