Updated: Apr 29
Our team here at The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center wants to help you protect your children from all forms of abuse, and that includes helping you keep them safe from online predators. While you may think the only way to keep your kids safe is to monitor all of their internet use, the reality is that this is simply not practical. Instead, it’s best to talk to your children and teach them how to keep themselves safe online. Here are a few best practices for maintaining your child’s online safety:
Keep Communication Open. One of the most important things you can do to protect your child from online predators is to make sure they know that they can always talk to you about anything, and that they can come to you with any questions or worries. In particular, emphasize that you won’t get mad, even if they broke a rule–the last thing you want is to miss a red flag because your child was too worried about being punished to tell you about it. In addition, let your child know that it’s okay to be curious about things like sex, and be prepared to give them accurate information about this topic so that they don’t go looking for it out on the internet.
Discuss Risky Relationships. Another thing to discuss with your kids when teaching them about online safety is how to recognize risky vs. healthy relationships. For example, pressure to keep the relationship a secret, or to do things that your child doesn’t feel comfortable with, are signs that the other person does not respect them or have their best interests at heart.
Discuss Acceptable vs. Unacceptable Treatment. A third key way to help your child stay safe from online predators is to make sure they know how to distinguish acceptable treatment and behavior from unacceptable conduct. For example, someone pushing their boundaries, disregarding their “no,” pressuring them to chat privately, or sending or asking for explicit images are all unacceptable acts.
There are more ways to keep your child safe than we have the space to cover here. If you are looking for more advice, or you suspect that your child has fallen victim to a predator, we encourage you to reach out to our team to get the expert support you need.