The internet is a beautiful thing that allows people to share their lives, but sometimes we find they are shared with the wrong people. How can we allow our children to connect with friends online, but not share too much too soon? Here are three easy ways to teach your children about internet privacy.
1. Go through the privacy settings on each platform
Whenever your child sets up a new social media profile, go through what the privacy settings are, and help them set up privacy settings you are comfortable with. Who can see the profile picture? Who will see that video they share? Go through how they control who sees what, and what information should be kept private. For example, if they tag a location, that is information you probably do not want public. A picture of a Bible verse, on the other hand, might be less of a concern. Make sure they know where you stand on what they can post where!
2. Make sure they understand the permanence of the Internet
Once something is posted, it should be assumed it is permanent. Even if you go back and delete it, there may be shares, reposts, copy/pastes, screenshots, and more that are still out there. Before posts are put up, they should think through what the post could impact, and whether they are good or bad. Try teaching your teens simple questions they should ask before each post to determine whether or not it is a good idea!
3. Monitor your children, openly
While there is software you can install to monitor your child’s every move online, the best way to monitor your children’s internet use is openly. Friend, follow, and add them wherever they are, and let them know you are keeping an eye on their posts. Being a part of their online lives gives you more confidence and comfort in what they are sharing, and makes your teen feel more secure should online conflict arise, from cyberbullying to a message they are uncomfortable with.
Now you can set healthy limits for internet safety, and work with your child to make sure they are staying safe on the internet as they learn new skills!