Talking to Your Kids About Online Safety Pt. 2

4 Dec, 2023

Part One of this four- part blog series discussed the need for online safety because of the risk of online exploitation and the concern for safety among parents and caregivers. Although this information is directed at kids and teens, we as adults can also use it to protect ourselves.
In Part 2, we will discuss how you can further educate yourself about online safety by identifying red flags that may show up during discussions with people online and how you can continue keeping your kids safe online.

Red Flags
There are many red flags that may show up when you or your kids are chatting with someone online. With the ever-prevalent hacking that happens on the internet, it’s important to recognize that even if someone SAYS they are someone you know, take note of any inconsistencies or oddities that may pop up as you converse with them. Trust your gut and be aware of anything that makes you feel uneasy or signal that something isn’t as it seems. If this feeling continues, take the steps to investigate before continuing the conversation.

Here are just a few red flags that should lead your kids to pump the brakes if experienced during any conversations:

  • They encounter someone who doesn’t provide much information about themselves, but asks a lot of questions about them or those in their life.
  • They encounter someone who makes promises or offers extravagant things in order to meet up with them. This person may say they want to make their dreams come true by providing them with material things or money.
  • They encounter someone who keeps telling them to keep conversations or information they share a secret.
  • They encounter someone who wants to speak only in private settings such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, using vanishing mode on Messenger or Instagram, and insist your kids should be alone when speaking with them.
  • They encounter someone offering big things or excursions that seem too good to be true.
  • They encounter someone who wants to meet up with them soon after meeting and insist on it happening as soon as possible.
  • They encounter someone who insists on meeting them in an isolated place and pressures them to come alone.
  • They encounter someone who asks for pictures of them that make them feel uncomfortable.
  • They encounter someone who constantly messages or seems to go through all their social media content and pictures at rapid speed as soon as it’s posted (stalking behaviors).
  • They encounter someone who asks for private information about your kids’ past or seems to know a lot of private information from their past.

How can your kids stay safe online?
The bottom line is to teach your children to trust their gut and develop habits that will help to keep them safe. If something doesn’t feel right, or someone makes them feel uncomfortable for a reason they can’t explain, they should ALWAYS take caution, seek help from an adult when needed, or block the person. They need to understand they don’t owe ANYONE anything and have a right to protect themselves.
Helpful tips:

  • Parents or caregivers can set the privacy settings on their kids’ computer in a way that is appropriate for their age or mental competence.
  • Remind your kids not to accept friend requests or direct messages from those they don’t know.
  • If a friend request comes from someone they know but they aren’t acting like themselves, temporarily block their profile and contact that person on the phone to see if it is really them.
  • Show your kids how to be aware of their digital surroundings and connections at all times.
  • Remind your kids not to post locations or information that may share where they are or their daily routines.
  • Consider turning off the location settings on your kids’ phone and apps, if it is safe to do so.
  • Caution your kids not to go into private chats, discussions or pages with strangers.
  • Set boundaries- remind your kids as soon as someone is inappropriate, rude, sexual, abusive, demanding or makes them feel uncomfortable to block them.
  • Caution your kids not to send nude photos of themselves to anyone- once it’s on the web, it stays on the web!
  • Caution your kids not to share information about their family online.
  • Encourage regular open discussions about who your kids are engaging with and in what manner.

Stay tuned for Part Three of this series which will touch on how to speak with your kids and teens about sexual exploitation online and topics that you may want to discuss.

Information was gathered from:
Collaborative Community Solutions-
Aurora Freedom-