Keeping Kids Smart & Safe Online

By Rob Baquera, Public Information Officer Roseville Police Department

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Flickr, and Vimeo are just some of the social media websites on the internet. Is your child engaging on any of these types of websites? If so, do you have your child’s password(s)? There are more than 2.6 billion users of social networking sites. With the rapid expansion of social media websites and online connectivity, parents need to be aware of the danger this can pose to their children, and take appropriate steps to protect them.

Children are innocent and naive and don’t think new people want to harm them. It’s important for parents to take an active role in teaching their children how to be safe when engaging on social media. Talk with them about some of the dangerous consequences of connecting with strangers over the internet or gaming sites. Let them know if a situation arises that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should talk with you.

Here are tips from the Roseville Police Department and the FBI about online safety for children. These guidelines apply to computers, as well as cell phones.

• Monitor your child’s use of the internet. Keep and use the home computer in an open, common room in your house.

• Tell your child why it’s important to not disclose personal information online.

• Check your child’s profile and what he/she posts online. Also ensure you’re connected as friends and follow their profile.

• Explain that once images are posted online, you lose control of them. Others can share or use them without your knowledge.

• Teach your child how to create and use strong passwords.

• Ask your child about the people they are communicating with online.

• Set a rule that your child may not meet face-to-face with any person he/she meets online without checking with you first. Let them know you will need to talk to that person’s parents first, and you must accompany them to any such meeting in a public place.

The following are recommendations for parents.

• Read and follow safety tips provided on each website.

• Help your child to set strong privacy settings to restrict access to their profile.

• Visit networking websites with your child, and discuss what is acceptable and what is risky.

• Educate yourself about the websites, software, games, and apps your child uses.

• Stay engaged with your child and know what he/she is doing online.

Many games made for kids actually have chat features where complete strangers can join in on the games and chat with the players. While some participants might be kids, this chat feature is a prime outlet that predators use to befriend children. Online predators are experts at piecing together details to create a profile of where a child lives, goes to school or hangs out.

The online world can have many hidden pitfalls. However, with guidance, your child can learn to navigate the internet along with social media and still understand the importance of staying safe online.

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