5 Proactive Steps to Mitigate Online Harms to your Children During COVID-19

5 Proactive Steps to Mitigate Online Harms to your Children During COVID-19

April 14, 2020

Dear Friends,With kids at home using technology for school work and entertainment during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s critical now, more than ever, for parents and grandparents to implement the following safety measures to keep your child safe on all internet-connected devices.

Your child is no match for tricky pornographers who use deceptive marketing tactics to entice children to view hard-core porn. Nor are children able to recognize disguised pedophiles and sexual predators who are constantly seeking vulnerable youth to manipulate and groom online.

40 % of kids in grades 4-8 reported they connected online with a stranger. Of those:
53 percent revealed their phone number to a stranger21 percent spoke by phone with a stranger
15 percent tried to meet with a stranger
11 percent met a stranger in their own home, the stranger’s home, a park, mall or restaurant
30 percent texted a stranger from their phone
6 percent revealed their home address to a stranger 
REVIEW SAFETY RULES AND SOFTWARE TOOLSThe use of parental control tools is never a substitute for daily parental supervision when it comes to your child’s internet use. This is why its essential to implement both safety tools and software rules on all internet-enabled devices used by children. Rule’s ‘N Tools Checklist (English)Rules ‘N Tools Checklist (Spanish)

SET UP PARENTAL CONTROL TOOLS Use parental controls on all internet-enabled devices (computers, laptops, gaming devices, tablets, cell phones, etc.). Many service providers and gaming devices provide these tools free of charge. At a minimum:Set age-appropriate filters to block harmful websites, videos and images. Set the monitoring tool so you can see what your kids are doing and who they are communicating with.Set up your own parent-approved buddy/gaming list so that your child is only able to communicate with people you have pre-approved.Step-by-step directions are provided in the below link.Parental Control Links 
BUILD AN ATMOSPHERE OF TRUST AND COMMUNICATE REGULARLYEstablish an ongoing dialogue and spend time online with your children. Engage them regularly about what they are doing, posting and who they are communicating with. Encourage your children to make good choices. It’s essential that you, the parent, be that safe person they come to when they run into dangers. And when they do, temper your responses and don’t over-react. 

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO AVOID SHARING PERSONAL INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATING WITH STRANGERS ONLINE  Remind your children to think before they post: there are no take-backs online. Ensure that your tweens and teens use privacy settings on all social media and gaming platforms.

ESTABLISH INTERNET USE RULES – HAVE YOUR CHILD SIGN THE YOUTH PLEDGE Parents may use this sample pledge for their children, or tailor the pledge to meet the specific needs of their family. Creating a youth pledge together promotes active learning and builds an atmosphere of open dialogue and trust!Download Youth Pledge Here (Children’s Internet Usage Study, Center for Cyber Safety and Education, March 2019).