Tips for Protecting Children Online

Welcome to Tips for Protecting Children online! As parents and as adults who work with children, we hear news and published reports about the need for protecting children online from many sources.  You’d think that with all the hoopla out there that this concern would have been addressed thoroughly by now. But sadly this is not the case. There are many reliable resources available to teach both parents and young people and to block harmful sites when needed, and many of them are free. In reality, however, it’s been my observation that many parents just don’t do it. Some parents think that their child would never frequent inappropriate sites or would know better than to communicate with total strangers online. But kids do. And many do so often. And that’s why I created Tips for keeping children safe online…especially for parents!Tips for protecting children online. 20160129_092602

My next point may seem to contradict the statement above, but if you keep reading you will understand why I say the following; most young people today do a very good job at keeping themselves safe online, far more so than you would believe judging from some media reports and so-called experts on Internet Safety. I’ve worked closely with countless numbers of children who are 10, 11 and 12 years old and older who are very Web savvy, remain safe online and yet have little to zero adult supervision at home around their use of the Internet. Why? It’s not that these parents don’t care, it has more to do with that they simply are not aware, or, are so busy putting food on the table and holding a household together that the thought of Internet safety doesn’t rise to the top of their must-do-now-parenting list. Some of the children who get little Internet use supervision at home seem to “pick it up” on their own from peers, teachers, counselors and the Internet itself, which is good.

We know that much of the media, especially cable networks, will sensationalize a story to death if it involves anything or anyone that would bring harm to our children. And if it keeps us riveted in front of our televisions and hand-held devices, all the better. Fear sells, within the media, and among some, and I stress some, so-called media safety experts who hit the public school assembly circuit (for big money) and alarm parents and frighten teens but do little or no teaching. Is there a need for diligence on the part of parents? Yes. Do some children and teens get themselves into serious trouble now and then? Yes they do, but far less frequently then many news reports would have you believe.

My approach to keeping children safe online and understanding media safety come from working directly with young people for over thirty years and watching how they use, share, and move about online. I also use different forms of media myself to communicate with teens and parents on a regular basis.  In the course of my work I have helped parents and their children deal with online stalkers, pornography, online gaming and gambling dependency. Still, I don’t consider myself an expert, because the vast topic of online safety is not my full-time occupation. I work with the whole child or teen, and interact regularly with parents also, which I believe informs and shapes my philosophy . So that’s my mantle and disclaimer all in one swoop!

The following related articles contain useful resources and my overall approach to protecting children online. I hope that you will take a few minutes to read and consider them all.

more tips for protecting children online