Online Safety for Kids and Teenagers

School in Ohio is in full swing, which means young people are spending more time online using social media, plus a variety of other Internet resources and entertainment options. This leaves many kids at risk for cyber-bullying, online predators, and identity theft.

PEW Research reports that 95 percent of teens use the Internet, and 81 percent of those regularly access social media sites. Another recent PEW finding reveals that nearly 1 in 4 students have experienced cyber-bullying. In cases of online sex crimes against minors, 82 percent of offenders used information gleaned from social media sites to learn more about their victims, according to the Journal of Adolescent Health. These sobering statistics are a reminder that risky online activity can have dangerous consequences for young people, and that teaching Internet safety should be a priority for every parent.

Take these steps to increase your child's tech literacy skills and help him or her to become an informed digital citizen:

  • Keep the conversation going: The number one thing you can do to help your child navigate the complexities of digital citizenship is to communicate with them regularly about their technology use. Which social media sites are they visiting? Who are they texting? Talk to your kids about what is acceptable to post online, and teach them good habits for interacting in the digital universe.
  • Read the fine print: Both children and parents are guilty of blindly clicking "I agree" to get to the content they are looking for, but don't make it a habit. Take the time to find out what you and your kids are actually agreeing to before signing up for an online service, and teach them to read the fine print every time.
  • Make it meaningful: High school-aged students will be more likely to practice online safety and etiquette if they understand the potential real-life consequences of not doing so. Young adults should know that their ability to get a job or gain admission to a top-tier college could be compromised by what they choose to post online.
  • Use your options: Teen girls especially should know how to disable location information from their smart phones or tablets, and be wary of downloading apps that require it. Similarly, parents should know how to use parental controls on their kids' devices, and take advantage of them. Child-friendly search engines are a great way to keep children safe in cyberspace; and many operating systems feature blocking options for things like free apps and online purchases.
  • Play by the rules: Take special precautions with young people who are using technology to play games with strangers online. Make sure the games are age-appropriate, and discourage them from using voice masking technology or webcams while gaming. Ensure all young people know how to identify a predator or recognize a risky situation, and let them know they can come to you if they need help.

Call or contact Mathews Insurance, Inc. today to answer any of your insurance questions.

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