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Navigating the Digital World: Online Safety for Kids and Teens

teen on tablet

In today's digital age, children and teenagers are growing up in a world that is vastly different from what many parents and support staff, like therapists and teachers, experienced during their own youth. The internet and various apps offer incredible opportunities for learning and socializing, but they also come with potential risks. It's crucial for parents and professionals working with children and teens to understand cybersecurity and app safety to provide guidance and support. In this blog post, we will explore strategies and resources to help parents, therapists, and teachers ensure online safety for kids and teens.

child on computer

In a world where technology is ever-evolving, ensuring the cybersecurity and app safety of kids and teens, particularly in the context of school-issued Chromebooks and early smartphone access, is a shared responsibility. Parents, therapists, and teachers can work together to create a secure digital environment where young individuals can explore, learn, and grow. By staying informed, fostering open communication, and utilizing helpful resources, we can help our children and teens thrive in the digital age while staying safe and responsible online.


Understanding the Digital Landscape:

child on laptop with parents
  1. Open Communication: It is important to maintain open and honest communication with kids and teens in your care regarding their use and activity online. Understanding that kids and teens may be accessing information that they do not realize is harmful is key to placing judgment aside and prioritizing safety and education.

  2. Educate Yourself: Like with anything else, it's essential to comprehend the apps and platforms kids and teens are using. Stay updated with the latest trends in social media and digital technology.

online safety child with parent on computer

The following resources can be helpful in learning more:

  • Resources like Common Sense Media can be invaluable for staying informed about age-appropriate apps and content.

  • NetSmartz: Operated by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, NetSmartz offers free resources about internet safety. They have various age-appropriate videos, tutorials, and activities designed to teach children about online safety.

  • SafeKids: This website provides a digital safety and citizenship contract you can review and sign with your child. It's a tangible way to set boundaries and guidelines for online behavior.

  • StaySafeOnline: Powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance, this site offers guides and tips to help families manage internet use and keep their online experiences safe and secure.

  • ConnectSafely: This site provides parents with guides about various platforms and apps that children may use, helping you understand and manage potential risks.

Ensuring Privacy and Parental Settings:

  1. Privacy Settings: Parents and caregivers can assist kids and teens in setting appropriate privacy controls on social media accounts and apps. These settings can limit exposure to unwanted content and interactions, as well as protect their information from being shared publicly, versus privately with friends.

  2. Parental Control Apps: Parental control apps like Qustodio, Norton Family, or Family Link by Google are helpful tools in limiting access and monitoring online usage. These tools allow parents to monitor and manage screen time, block inappropriate content, and track their child's online activity.

Promoting Responsible Digital Citizenship:

  1. Online Etiquette: Parents, therapists, and teachers can educate children and teens about responsible online behavior. Caretakers can emphasize to children or teens that creativity and communication online should respect certain ethical boundaries and responsibility.

  2. Critical Thinking: Children and teens can continue to learn and foster critical thinking skills by discussing the credibility of online information, what they are sharing and processing the vulnerability they may have on online platforms and apps. Encourage kids and teens to question the sources of information they encounter, promoting a healthy skepticism, as well as share with caution - understanding that their information is private and important is key!

Below are several videos that support teaching kids and teens about digital citizenship; adults can also learn a thing or two!

Keeping our kids and teens safe online is a hard task, hopefully these tips will help you feel more confident in navigating these ever changing waters!

Be well, happy and safe!

Bolden Therapy & Wellness


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