Alison Jacobson, “The Safety Mom,” is a preeminent voice on safety, wellness and healthy living and a Cox Communications partner.
From environmental toxins and healthy eating to sports injuries and cyber bullying, The Safety Mom is always on the lookout for the issues facing children of all ages, as well as the entire family.
Here she provides cyber safety tips for parents just in time for the summer months when kids may be home alone more often.
• Know your child’s passwords and review their social media sites weekly. Ask them how they know new friends or connections and if they don’t know them, do not allow them to follow.
• Kids often have numerous accounts. Along with reviewing who is following them, look at their activity. If there isn’t a lot of activity, they may be using a different account. Investigate further.
• Be sure that geo-tagging is off on all social media sites, which prevents someone from identifying where your child is posting from.
• Teach them never to post the name of their school, home address or areas where they frequently hang out.
• Assume that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Just because a profile is deleted or information is removed, older versions can continue to exist on other sites.
• Never allow your child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they’ve met online by themselves.
• Teach kids to not respond to messages that are inappropriate. Encourage children to tell an adult if they ever encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
• Parents and guardians should consider downloading a monitoring service app that allows them to view the child’s smartphone activity.
• Cyberbullying over the weekend spills into school on Monday. Inform school officials if your child was involved in a cyberbully incident so that they can monitor the situation during the day.
• Don’t dismiss the issue. Whether your child plays it down or is seriously upset, get involved. Parents of “bullycide” victims (kids who have committed suicide due to bullying) frequently comment that they wish they had taken the issue more seriously.
• If necessary, get law enforcement involved. Many school districts around the country have a police officer or several assigned to the school who are always on campus. This would be the first law enforcement personnel to approach. Ask him/her for their suggestions on handling the situation.
• Teach your child to get involved. It has been shown that the best person to help stop bullying is a peer who intervenes. If your child witnesses someone getting bullied online encourage her/him to tell you.
For more information on safe behavior in the digital world, including valuable tools and information to empower parents and caregivers to protect loved ones while getting the most out of their technology, visit cox.com/takecharge.