As kids continue to do a lot of their learning virtually, they’re spending a ton of time behind a screen or perusing the web. Because of that, cyber safety is more important now than ever. Fortunately, Texas happens to have some solid cyber security laws in place, but as there are predators still out there lurking.
Studies show that one in seven young people have experienced unwanted sexual solicitations online. And one in three have been exposed to unwanted sexual material. Since those stats are terrifying, here are a few tips as well as resources you should consider checking out:
1. Talk to your kids about staying safe online and remind them that if they ever receive any inappropriate contact, they should tell you. Tell them it’s OK to tell you, that they won’t get in trouble, you’re just trying to protect them.
2. Educate your kids. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has an online program called NetSmartzKids that’s designed to teach kids and adults how to be safe online. And the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing program introduces key concepts through games designed for kids in third through eighth grades.
3. Educate yourself. As technology continues to evolve and more new apps continue to present themselves, it’s vital you keep your knowledge up on what’s going on. See a new app on your kid’s phone? Take the time to look it up and see what it does or offers. Read a phrase or two that you didn’t understand? There’s actually a guide to internet lingo.
4. Build up your resources. We know it can be hard to start these conversations sometimes (especially if you have an angsty pre-teen or teen), so consider browsing through the Federal Trade Commission’s online safety tips or this guide for parents and teachers about how to talk to them about cyber safety. If you need to report a suspicion of child sexual exploitation, alert the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through their CyberTipline.
How have you talked to your kids about cyber security? Are there resources you found helpful? Share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in January 2021.