Cyber safety for kids: How to Have “the Talk”

cyber safety for kids
Did you know 1 in 3 children have been a victim of cybercrime and/or cyberbullying? Since our kids are spending so much time on the Internet, the question is how cyber safe are they? As Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites gain popularity, so, too, is the chance a predator is lurking online. According to the FBI, 70 percent of kids accept a friend request from a stranger, and more than 95 percent of teens access the Internet on their mobile devices. Amanda, 13, became a victim of an online predator posing as someone who was a few years older. This stranger sent many texts and funny pictures to her until she was finally caught. How do you keep your child safe online? Here are some tips:

Start an Open and Honest Communication

I do talk about the use of social networking sites with my kids, and they know what we believe is inappropriate,” says Jane Wood, a mother of two. If you want that level of trust to be open, letting your kids know you want to protect them will build their confidence. Make sure you talk to them about the dangers on the Internet.

The Golden Rule Is Never to Talk to Strangers

The same rules that apply to real life also apply online. Parents should tell their children not to chat with or e-mail anyone they don’t know. If they have a weird interaction or someone asks them for a private discussion, you should be told immediately.

Teach Them to Keep Private Information Private

Educate your kids on why their private information should remain private. For example, if they are signing up on a website, tell them to use their nicknames rather than their real names. Also, let them know they shouldn’t give out their home address or date of birth to anyone. Apart from that, your kids also need to know about the dangers of oversharing pictures, as well as broadcasting every they do on social media. Such practices give cybercriminals a great deal of information about them and your family, which they can then use to engage in conversations.

Track Your Kids’ Cell Phone

Rather than checking your kids’ cell phone often, you could easily track their online activities by using cell phone monitoring software. This will help you keep track of what your children are doing, as well as give accurate data of their contacts and most visited websites. Some smartphone’s device tracking capabilities, such as “Find my iPhone,” “My Friends app to know where they are,” and “Spybubble” or “PhoneSheriff” are nice tracking apps that can help you monitor your child’s online activities. You can find 3rd party 2017 reviews or the many options available here. However, ensure your kids are aware you are tracking their device and understand why you are doing it. They should know it’s because you want to guarantee their safety (not as a sign of mistrust). This will help create an honor system.  

Restrict Their Access Online

You can also restrict your child’s Internet access by blocking certain websites that are not deemed appropriate for them. A good tool for this is OpenDNS. It allows for parental control, customizable filtering, and retains the Internet stats for the past year on the home network.


As parents, we must be vigilant in protecting our children from online dangers. No matter how old your kids are, it is always good to check in with them regularly and see what they are doing online. Being proactive will go a long way in helping them remain cyber safe.