Undercover Underage Safety Tips
1. Build a strong relationship with your child. One of the most important things you can do to protect your kid is to develop trust. Have candid, age-appropriate, regular conversations about everything from the great parts of the internet to some of the tough things they could encounter. If you lay this foundation, they’re more likely to come to you if something’s wrong.
2. Discuss red flags. Grooming can be very subtle — especially at first. Talk through concrete examples of red flags with your child so they’re able to identify when someone they’re talking to may be trying to manipulate them. Things to watch for can range from an adult paying them compliments to asking them to keep secrets to asking them to send selfies.
3. Explore social media. The internet is always changing, so it’s not possible for you to keep up with every single game, trend, or slang term that’s out there. But you can spend time exploring the platforms your kid or teen likes best so that you learn how they work. Bonus points if you look through things together!
4. Set healthy boundaries. Every kid is different, so a tech use rule that works for your family may not work for your kid’s BFF. Think through — and clearly communicate — your expectations around which apps and sites your child can use, how much screen time will help them feel their best, and when they should set aside downtime from their devices. You can use built-in platform or device parental controls to help with this.
5. Make a plan. If your kid or teen does ever encounter harm online, the stressful situation can make it difficult for them to know exactly how to react. Take some of that decision-making out of the equation by talking through a plan of action in advance. Make sure to remind them that they should follow the plan even if someone threatens them online — that’s a common tactic perpetrators use to exert power over their victims. Let your child know that if something like this happens, abuse is never their fault, and that you’re here to help and support.
For additional resources, please visit https://sosatogether.org/blog.