Garden City Police Department shares parenting tips for online safety on Safer Internet Day

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Tuesday, Feb. 6, is Safer Internet Day. The celebration raises awareness of a safer and better internet for all, and especially for children and young people.

The Garden City Police Department has shared parenting tips for online safety from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program.

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 5,400 federal, state, and local law enforcement, dedicated to investigating, prosecuting, and developing effective responses to internet crimes against children.

An acronym ICAC says you can use to help keep children safe online is “S.M.A.R.T.”

Set-up: devices/accounts/passwords

  • It is important for parents to know how to set up their children’s devices for several reasons. Overall, knowing how to set up a device empowers parents to create a safe and healthy digital environment for their kids. It allows them to strike a balance between protecting their children and allowing them to explore the online world in a responsible and beneficial way. While knowing how to use parental controls and security features is essential, it goes beyond technical knowledge. Parents should also be familiar with current online trends, dangers, and age-appropriate content to effectively guide and advise their children on safe and responsible digital citizenship. Remember, technology evolves rapidly, so it is important for parents to stay informed and adapt their strategies as needed to ensure their children’s continued safety and well-being in the digital world.

Monitor: online use/connections

  • Monitoring your children’s online use and connections isn’t about spying, it’s about striking a crucial balance between protecting them from potential harm and fostering their digital independence. Monitoring your children’s online use and connections is an ongoing process, an investment in their safety, well-being, and digital citizenship. By striking the right balance and focusing on open communication, you can empower your children to navigate the online world safely and confidently.

Approve: apps/games

  • Parents’ approval of their children’s apps and games is crucial for several reasons and goes beyond simply saying “yes” or “no.” It’s about creating a safe and enriching digital environment that fosters safety, security, healthy development, trust and communication. Approving apps together creates opportunities for open communication about online activities. Discuss the reasons behind your decisions, explain potential risks, and set expectations for responsible use. This builds trust and strengthens parent-child relationships.

Restrict: contents/permissions

  • It’s incredibly important for parents to restrict their child’s access to inappropriate content. It’s about creating a safe and age-appropriate online environment where children can explore and learn while being protected from potential harm. Here are some helpful approaches:
    • Open communication: Talk to your children about the dangers of inappropriate content and set clear expectations for their online behavior.
    • Parental control tools: Utilize parental control features offered by devices and platforms to filter content, limit screen time, and monitor
      online activity.
    • Age-appropriate resources: Choose websites, apps, and games specifically designed for children’s age and developmental needs.

Talk: #StartTheConversation/teach

  • Open and repeated conversations are your most powerful tool for online safety. By prioritizing open and repeated conversations about online safety, you can equip your children with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Think of it as an investment in their future, just like teaching them any other important life skill. Technology and online trends evolve rapidly, making it impossible for parents to know everything. Having ongoing conversations about online safety allows you to stay updated on the latest trends, apps, and challenges kids might face. You can adjust your guidance accordingly. Remember, these conversations don’t have to be one-sided lectures. Here are some tips for making them more engaging and effective:
    • Start early and adapt the conversation to your child’s age and development.
    • Make it a natural part of everyday life, not just a one-time event.
    • Ask open-ended questions and actively listen to their concerns.
    • Use real-life examples and relatable scenarios to illustrate your points.
    • Focus on teaching them strategies for staying safe, not just scaring them.
    • Be open to learning from them as well.