Kids and tweens want to stay safe. They want to be able to play games online without getting cyberbullied. They want to know how dangerous things really are and what they can do about it. They want to know when and how to ask for help. They want to know how to find good sites and avoid bad ones and how to tell the difference. We’ll share what you want to know and how you can be safer and help keep your friends safer online too.
Talking to Your Parents
Even though kids may know more about technology, parents know more about life. That’s why we need
to trust them when we need help online. Maybe they won’t know how Club Penguin works, or the best
way to earn points on Webkinz or Bearville, but they can help when things go wrong. It’s their job
to protect you. But if you don’t ask for their protection, they won’t know that you need their help.
The best time to talk with your parents about staying safe online is now, before something goes wrong.
Some parents know lots about the Internet and cell phones, but some don’t. If your parents already use
the Internet, you should show them your favorite sites and talk to them about why you like them. Let
them know who your online friends are and how you are already working on keeping yourself safer
online. If your parents don’t use the Internet, or only use it a little, you might have to take it slowly and
show them how Google works and help them understand about online games and virtual worlds where
you can play online with lots of other kids and tweens.
Show them how instant messaging works, and let them see who is on your “buddy list.” Most parents
are surprised about how careful kids and tweens are. Let them know your own safety rules and how you
and your friends find ways to stay safer online.
If you are lucky enough to have a cell phone, show your parents how it works. Parents usually use cell
phones just for making calls, or sometimes use it for email or texting. But they don’t know all the cool
things their cell phone or yours can do. Show them how to download and play music. Help them send a
photo message or play a game. Download some fun ringtones with them. If you know, show them how
to set passwords or security on the cell phone and if you don’t know, find out how. Set a screen saver of
you and your parents for their cell phone. (That way you can choose the pic you like instead of a boring
Get them to promise not to overreact if anything goes wrong. Also remind them that you are
trustworthy and careful. You may want them to sign a safe surfing contract with you. (WiredSafety has
one you can download and print out.) In the contract, you promise to follow some rules and they
promise not to overreact.
Promise that you will come to them when things go wrong online. But to do that you’ll need to how and
when to get help.