Talk to Your Child About Internet Safety
Like the world itself, the online world is both wonderful and occasionally dangerous. When it is time for them to learn how to use the Internet safely, take time to talk to your children about:
- Causing legal or financial harm to the family if you "click" without getting permission.
- Exposure to harmful material (violent or sexually explicit scenes).
- People online who may start off friendly but then change.
Fear of losing their Internet access, mobile phone or gaming device keeps most children from telling their parents when they encounter something online that makes them uncomfortable.
Ask your child to tell you when anything questionable happens to them online. Make it clear that you want to help, and that they won’t be punished if they tell you.
Encourage them to tell you when:
- Someone they don't know tries to communicate with them.
- An inappropriate site comes up on the screen.
- Someone harasses or threatens them online.
Teach your children about the differences between "pretend" and reality on the Internet. Many children like to pretend to be someone else while online. They feel anonymous, and sometimes take risks. Children need to understand that other people can also pretend to be someone else while online, and sometimes they do it to hurt people.
Children need to understand that real world rules and values apply on the Internet as they do in real life.
Don't just tell your children what they can't do. Make a point to sit with your children and see the sites they like to visit and the things they like to share online. If you think a site or a posting is inappropriate, explain why.
Make it clear to your children that you are in charge. Remind them that you have more experience dealing with the world.
Your children must understand that just as you decide which movies they are allowed to see, you will supervise their online activities.
With teenagers, strive to keep the lines of communication open. Teens are asserting their independence and learning to make their own decisions. It is normal for them to be interested in love and romance, and to seek adventure. But teen's brains are not yet fully developed, and they are capable of making impulsive decisions without fully grasping the consequences of their actions. Some teens may need to hear in no uncertain terms that it is illegal and dangerous for a young person to have sex with an adult.
Finally, help teens "keep it clean" online. Adults who want to exploit young people look for teens whose online profile or posts indicate an interest in sex and teens who show a willingness to talk about sex online.
Request a Presentation
The Attorney General’s staff and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force members offer Internet education and safety programs
. Presentations are available to groups of North Carolina parents, educators and law officers.