You can help your child safely enjoy technology and steer clear of digital dangers such as predators, sexting and cyberbullying by getting involved with their digital life. Talk to your child about the digital world – early and often – and set clear boundaries. Talk about the websites you visit and share your favorite YouTube® videos. Regularly ask your child about what they are doing online, about their favorite websites and online “friends”. If you don’t know as much about technology as your child, let them teach you. They will relish the opportunity to be the expert in the family for a change. The key is to keep an open dialogue, make sure your child knows what is expected of them, and hold them accountable. One way to ensure that your child knows what is expected of them is for you and your child to review, sign and post a Safety Pledge on the refrigerator.
- I will talk with my parent(s) so that we can establish rules for using the Internet and my mobile phone. We will decide the time of day that these can be used, the length of time that I can use them, the appropriate online areas for me to visit, and the appropriate uses of my mobile phone. I will not access other areas online or break these rules without their permission.
- I will not give out my address, telephone number, parents’ work address/telephone number(s), or the name and location of my school without the permission of my parent(s).
- I will not use chat rooms and I will only use instant messengers, email and text messaging to communicate with those people my parents have approved.
- I will not respond to email, instant messages or text messages from someone I do not know offline (in real-life). I will not arrange to meet anyone in person that I “meet” online. This includes “friends of friends”.
- I will never send my picture to anyone or post a picture of myself online without first checking with my parent(s), and I will not send or post pictures of other people.
- I will not use bad language, insult people or be rude to other people online. I will not forward instant messages, text or email messages that are hurtful to others. I will respect the privacy of my friends and family.
- I will tell an adult right away if I come across anything online or receive any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will always follow the rules of Internet sites and I will not purchase products or services online without my parents’ approval and help. I will not download anything, including email attachments without my parent’s approval.
- These rules apply wherever I am: at home, a friend’s house, school, and library or whenever I use technology.
Click here to download a copy of this Internet & Mobile Safety Pledge to print, review with your child, sign and post.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and predators. He co-founded KidSafe, is the author of Keeping Kids Safe: A Guide for Parents of Social and Mobile Children and is a frequent public speaker on the topic.
Copyright © 2009 Tim Woda