5 Things Parents Need To Know About Keeping Their Children Safe Online

No compensation was received for this post. I was invited to the Club Penguin Headquarters by Disney and provided travel/accommodations.  All thoughts/opinions remain solely that of the author.

We live in a digital world, fueled by technology that continues to advance at lightning speeds.  So when I tell you that my son has been “online” (I’ll describe exactly what that means in a follow-up post) for over a year now, you probably don’t bat an eye.  But if I told you that my husband, mother, and I have all had a hand in enabling him to be online, you might looking at me sideways…even disapprovingly.

It would be difficult, but definitely not impossible to shield my son from the internet. But as a parent, I’d rather educate my son so that he is equipped to handle any potential negative situations that may arise while engaging online.

Disney Club PenguinI love this photo because what you can’t see is that this is a waterfall! 

Last month, I spent a few days in Kelowna, BC with Club Penguin for their first-ever Club Penguin Media Summit.  Along with getting a peek inside the igloo (both digitally and literally), we spent a couple of hours talking about a subject that is becoming increasingly important…Online Safety.

The question for parents is not “should my kids be online” but “how do I prepare my kids for a social world?” - Chris Heatherly, VP/GM Disney Interactive Worlds

NetSmartz

Day 2 of the summit began with an online safety presentation by Ju’Riese Colon from NetSmartz, a program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  Designed for children between the ages of 5 and 17, NetSmartz provides age-appropriate resources to teach children, parents, guardians, educators and law enforcement about online safety.

NetSmartz Presentation

Two of the resounding themes throughout the summit were the emphasis on protecting personal information, and the sobering fact that anything and everything put online remains there forever…even if it is deleted.  This became real as we watched a short clip of Amanda Todd’s final video before she committed suicide.  After posting a single, unclothed photo of herself, she endured years of of bullying and even an attack where she was physically assaulted.  Despite the fact that she moved schools and cities, the bullying and harassment followed her, leading to a downward spiral into depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eventually, suicide. Sadly, Amanda Todd’s story is not the only one.

NetSmartz

NetSmartz is working to keep kids safe on and offline through a series of videos, online books, games, and activities designed to educate, entertain, engage, and empower children.  And while these resources are valuable and effective, internet safety begins at home, which is why parents should be having conversations with their children at a young age. Even 5 and 6 year olds can benefit from modeling good “netiquette”

As parents, what can we do to help keep our kids safe online?

1. Begin early conversations about online safety using vocabulary/language that is meaningful to children based on their age

2. Educate children about the importance of keeping their personal information safe (name, address, phone number, passwords)

3.  Keep the lines of communication open and emphasize the importance of telling a parent/caregiver if any online interaction makes him/her feel sad, scared, or confused

4.  Be active and involved with your children as they spend time online. Know the sites they spend time on and the people they are talking to.

5.  Establish limits.  This could include limits on the amount of time a child spends online, which websites they are visiting online, or where they access the internet (at home in a central location v. on their phone at a friend’s house).

There is a wealth of information regarding online safety on the NetSmartz website. If you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend checking out the section on Internet Safety which offers discussion starters and tips.

If you’re wondering about the relationship between Club Penguin and NetSmartz, Club Penguin is a supporter of the organization and the safety education resources they offer parents, caregivers, teachers, and children.

 Images:  NetSmartz unless noted. 

#ClubPenguinSummit

   

4 Responses to “5 Things Parents Need To Know About Keeping Their Children Safe Online”

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    Philip Rose — May 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

    OK – great idea – but just understand one thing. Amanda Todd was left to run riot, and posted MANY videos of herself online, not one image. This went on from 2010 to 2011, even after the cops arrived. Don’t believe me? Google her name.

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    Perapin — May 15, 2013 at 10:32 pm


    Very ideal tips! :)

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    Emilie — May 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    This is great advice! My six year old loves surfing the internet and while I make him do it when I’m right there, it is easy for him to click onto something inappropriate. Especially on YouTube!

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    Erin T. — May 20, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Good tips! Easy to take the nternet and kids for granted. But I wasn’t online until HS while my son has had access since preschool!

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