Talking to Your Kids About Online Safety Pt 4

13 Dec, 2023

Part three of this four-part blog series discussed how to speak with your kids and teens about sexual exploitation online and topics that you may want to discuss.
In the fourth and final part of this blog series, we will discuss how to identify the signs that your kids need more support and how to model safe behavior for your kids.
Kids and teens, as many of us know, aren’t the best when it comes to expressing emotions or asking for help. Most aren’t even aware of the support that they need, so it’s up to us as caregivers to look for signs and identify when they need the help.

Trust Your Gut
If you get that intuitive, gut feeling that something isn’t right with your child, CHECK-IN and start a discussion with them. Even if they shy away and try to retreat, let them see that you’re open for discussion and willing to support them however they need.
Pay Attention
Note any changes in your kids’ and teens’ behaviors, moods or needs. Sometimes they aren’t able to articulate what they need or what they want to say, but noting these changes will help identify what is happening. Also, take notice if your child becomes more withdrawn, depressed, anxious, upset, sad, angry or secretive. These could be warning signs that something more is happening.
Keep Watch
Monitor your kids’ internet usage and notice if there are any drastic changes (increased or decreased time). If you notice any, ask questions and investigate to find out what’s going on.
Changes in Interests and Routines
Sometimes, as kids and teens encounter difficulties or issues online, they’ll shift their habits or routines. Ask yourself:

  • Have they lost interest in the offline activities they used to enjoy?
  • Have they changed the way they speak or the level of interaction with family?
  • Are they having difficulty with their mental or physical health?
  • Are they having trouble falling asleep or remaining asleep?
  • Are they avoiding interactions with those they love and trust?
  • Have they lost friends they felt connected to?

How YOU can model good behavior
They say toddlers learn their behaviors and morals from the adults they are surrounded by, but kids and teens also mimic the behaviors they see regularly. This means that you are the best person to model good, grounded behavior. Keep reading to find out how.
Gain Trust
It’s important for kids and teens to understand that they will never get in trouble for telling you a secret that makes them uncomfortable. Often they fear getting into trouble or upsetting their caregivers by asking questions or talking about things that they have experienced. Reassure them they won’t get in trouble and remind them they won’t be punished for sharing this information with you. Be their safe place.
Remember, kids as young as 2 years of age use the internet via phones, computers, laptops and tablets and while it can be a great place to learn, explore, and connect with family and friends, we also need to educate them on how online safety and provide a place for them to ask questions and feel supported.

This was the final blog in this series which aimed to provide information to keep your kids safe online and teach you how to better support and model safe behavior for your kids.