How to keep your kids safe online

There’s a lot of worrying stuff online - from pornography and sexting to cyberbullying and crime - so what can you do to protect children from putting themselves at risk?

Chances are your child is a digital native, meaning navigating the web is as natural to him or her as flicking the TV onto Skippy or playing Pac Man was when you were a kid.

Problem is there’s a divide between many parents’ knowledge of the online world and what the younger generation may be exposed while surfing the Internet.

One of parents’ greatest concerns at the moment is ‘sexting’.

According to NetSafe, sexting “involves the sending of sexually explicit messages, images and videos primarily between mobile phones or over online chat platforms and apps.”

Such activities have been normalised in teen dating culture, with NetSafe chief technology officer Sean Lyons saying: “You’d be hard pressed to find a teen that hasn’t been asked to send a naked or semi-naked photo of themselves in New Zealand.”

Scary stuff, right?

Today (February 9) is Safer Internet Day, a global initiative aimed at promoting better awareness of how to stay safe online.

So here’s how you can keep your kids safe on the internet and prevent harm:

• Encourage children to treat their password like their toothbrush – don’t share it with anyone and change it regularly

• Revisit your privacy settings to protect your personal information and ask your kids to do the same

• Take an interest in your child’s online activity. Remind them that nude pics can spread quicker than a virus – reconsider the types of pics you send

• Don’t act in the heat of the moment if you find naked photos on your child’s phone, tablet or laptop – stay calm and chill; young people often don’t consider long term consequences

• Let your kid know that when cyberbullying gets them down, they can report it to NetSafe

• Remind them that what they post online stays online

For more information about cyberbullying, online safety and sexting contact NetSafe – 0508 NETSAFE

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