5 Safety Tips on How to Protect and Monitor Your Child’s Online Interactions

There has been an increase of online spaces for children to meet on, game on, and interact with others all over the internet. The internet has not only made it easier to connect with others online, but it has also made it easier for individuals to communicate virtually with one another all across the globe. While the internet may have spaces that are fun for children and teens for learning, play, and community, it is extremely important that safety becomes a priority in these online spaces.

For parents and caregivers, protecting your children online is crucial with the expansion of online spaces. According to Bark’s Annual Report, 9.4% of tweens and 14.2% of teens have encountered predatory behaviors from someone online. (“How to Protect Your Children From Online Predators”)

While there is no foolproof way to protect your children from online predatory abuse, there are steps you can take to reduce this risk. If something happens to your child, remember that the perpetrator is to blame—not you, and especially not the child. Below you’ll find five safety tips you can take to help protect children online in your life

Start having conversations on online safety and online predators. It’s important to begin having conversations with your child about the fact that not everyone online is safe. Many people online claim to be someone else or a different age on online platforms. While not every individual online is a predator, making your child aware of predators online, who may be someone they know or trust, is an important step in online abuse prevention.

Teach your child to limit the amount of personal information they share online. Sharing personal information is never a good idea. Personal information may include your child's home address, phone number, or details about their daily routine and their social media handles. Sharing this information may pose a greater threat to their safety and may give predators information to target them.

Set ground rules to never meet in real life. Since predators are extremely good at concealing their true identities, there is no way to tell who is behind the other side of the screen. Advise your children that meeting in real life with someone they met online is never a good idea.

Educate your child on online grooming. Online grooming often involves adults creating fake profiles and posing as children or teens in order to befriend someone and gain their trust. This may be the first step towards sexual abuse or online stalking or harassment.

Use parental controls like Bark. a service that monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of sexual predators, adult content, cyberbullying, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug use, threats of violence, and more.

Rather than banning kids from going online, introduce more freedom as they get older, and make sure they are attuned to the risks and are comfortable talking to you about what they experience.

Additional Resources:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: Operated by RAINN, the NSAH provides free, confidential support 24/7 by phone (800.656.HOPE) and online chat.
  • Lean On Me: A caregiver’s guide to safeguarding children and supporting healing from sexual abuse. This series, a collaboration between RAINN and No Limit Generation, is designed to inform, guide, and educate caregivers to safeguard children from online and in-person grooming, help create a safe space to support and validate a child’s disclosure of sexual abuse, and be a healing presence for them in the event sexual abuse has occurred. 5 Red Flags and
  • 5 Tips to Protect Your Child Online. 5 red flags on child sexual abuse material and examples of how predators often operate in order to abuse children. In addition, 5 tips for parents/caregivers on preventing child sexual abuse material.
  • Bark: Bark’s affordable, award-winning dashboard proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind.

RAINN offers free, confidential support and information through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which is available through online chat or phone: 800.656.HOPE (4673) or in Spanish at RAINN.org/es.

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