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Summer Health and Safety

4 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

It’s no secret technology is everywhere these days. From mobile devices to educational websites, our children have access to ideas and innovations we never would have dreamed possible when we were their age.

In the classroom, teachers are harnessing technology to bring learning to life and deliver personalized instruction, while students use it to research subjects, connect with people and places around the world, and stay in touch with family and friends.

Knowing how to use technology is now critical for students to develop the skills they need to thrive, but it has also made parenting more complex. New opportunities bring new concerns. As parents, we want our children to learn, connect, and have fun through technology, and at the same time act safely, responsibly, and thoughtfully online.

4 ways to keep kids safe online:

  1. Have proactive, open and ongoing conversations with your children about digital safety, social media, and technology use. Devices, sites, games, and apps will change as our children grow, as will rules and guidelines. It is important to revisit this conversation regularly.
  2. Show your children the rules of life also apply online. Just as we teach them to say “please” and “thank you” in daily conversations, we should also make sure our family values are reflected in the way our children act online.
  3. Help your children build good digital habits and ensure they have the skills they need to be responsible. Just as we teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, we also should be teaching our children that “123456” is not a safe online password.
  4. Model good digital habits. Monitor your own device use, like not bringing your phone to the dinner table, never texting while driving, and turning off all devices and storing them in a common area well before bedtime. Kids follow what adults do, and they benefit greatly when expectations and good digital habits are modeled for them.

We owe it to our children to give them the tools to thrive in an increasingly digital world. We must show them how to be mindful of their online presence and footprint; how to meaningfully interact with social networks, games and apps; the ways to protect themselves and their identity; and how to balance their time online within their daily life.

Together, we can ensure our children become extraordinary citizens — in the digital and real worlds.

Through its initiative PTA Connected, National PTA is educating parents and encouraging dialogue to help them guide their children in the digital world, and make the best possible decisions for their families. Visit PTA.org/Connected for conversation-starters, resources, and tools to help oversee children’s internet use and keep them safe online.

Jim Accomando, President, National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), [email protected]

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