The internet offers endless opportunities for learning, exploration, and connection, yet there are also hidden dangers that all parents and caregivers must be aware of as their children and teens go online. During Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Kosair for Kids Face It Movement has collaborated with the Exploited Children’s Help Organization (ECHO) to bring awareness to online risks and tips to prevent unsafe situations.
The new resource – Cyber Safety 101: Keeping Our Kids Safe Online – offers parents and caregivers critical definitions, topics to cover when talking with their children about being online, tips that promote safety, and information on how to report efforts to exploit a child online.
"As more and more kids, including elementary-age students, enter the digital space, parents must be aware of the dangers and how to empower their child. By understanding terms such as the digital footprint and grooming, parents can begin to have open and honest conversations with their children and teens about what is and is not appropriate content, never giving out personal information, and never exchanging inappropriate photos," said Sonja Grey, executive director of ECHO.
Cyber Safety 101 offers the following tips for what parents can do to keep their kids safe online:
- Open Communication: It's never too early or too late to start a dialogue with your child or teen about how to stay safe online. Assure your child that they can always come to you if they are ever in a situation that is uncomfortable or scary.
- Set Boundaries: Clearly outline your expectations for their online interactions and communicate those expectations early and often. Create clear rules, such as setting a time each day that devices must be shut down and having devices in high-traffic areas of the home.
- Take an Internet Safety Pledge: You and your child can co-create and take a pledge regarding online safety; there are several examples available.
- Watch Out for Red Flags: Be on the lookout for signs that your child or teen may have been exposed to inappropriate content, such as anxiety, withdrawal, and referencing inappropriate topics.
- Utilize Parental Controls: Use a parental control filter to help limit your child or teen’s exposure to inappropriate content.
"Kosair for Kids has spent 100 years focused on ensuring that every child can live life to the fullest, which includes protecting them from dangerous trends. The Cyber Safety 101 resource offers parents of younger and older children practical information and tips to prevent unsafe interactions and to recognize if their child has experienced exploitation online. We all play an important role in protecting children, and child safety is an adult’s responsibility. We are proud to play a role in this effort to give families the knowledge they need to keep their kids safe," said Barry Dunn, President and CEO of Kosair for Kids.
"Kids are online for schoolwork, social media, gaming, and other entertainment – that's the reality. We must ensure our kids know what to do if they encounter a situation online that makes them uncomfortable. Thankfully there are tools out there to report online predators and remove photos of your child. This resource from the Face It Movement is another tool in that toolbox to keep children safe online," said Grey.
Every adult in Kentucky is mandated to report child maltreatment to the Child Protection Hotline at 1-877-KYSAFE-1 or online. If someone sends your child photos or videos containing obscene content, speaks or writes to your child in a sexual manner, or asks to meet your child in person, call the CyberTipline at 1-800-THE-LOST or report it online.