About Safe Search

Safe Search Kids is powered by Google for filtered search results.

Safe Image Search

Safe Search Kids delivers safe filtered images, powered by Google.

Safe Wiki Search

Safe Search Kids delivers safe wiki articles for kids and teens.

Safe Video Search

Search for safe filtered videos from a variety of trusted sources.

Using the Internet for Learning

Tips for Learning on the Internet

The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.

Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.  

What Types of Resources Are Out There?

Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.

If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.

How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?

Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.  

Where to Start Searching?

When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.

A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.

If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.

Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond

Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.

Author Bio

Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.

The days of relying on the rows and rows of public library books for school projects are long gone. Nowadays, the internet is a one-stop shop for gaining any and all resources necessary for learning. While it’s amazing that knowledge is so readily available at our fingertips, it’s increasingly important to differentiate valuable learning resources from spam and other junk.

Whether you’re a student or a parent, here are tips to help you embark on this journey to find the perfect resource.  

What Types of Resources Are Out There?

Whether you’re looking for some extracurricular activities to sharpen your skills in a certain subject or a fully inclusive tutoring service, the internet has it all. The key to finding the perfect online program is understanding the area(s) that you wish to improve. Are you at risk of being held back a year or do you just want to get a jump on highschool algebra? For help with a single subject or opportunities for extra learning, check out your school’s and/or school district’s resources. Often times schools will have a webpage for these types of learning activities. For example, one school in Indiana offers resources on learning to read and learning important math skills.

If you are in need of a full tutoring service, the search process can become a little more complex. Refining your search to be as specific as possible can make a huge difference. Instead of searching “online tutoring services” and getting a massive list of just about every tutoring service on the planet, try searching “5th grade math online tutoring services.” This list should be full of relevant sources. Picking the perfect one will then come down to a little extra research on the specific service. Make sure to look into customer reviews, as well as prices and scheduling, in order to find the service that fits your needs. Your search will come back with big names that you may recognize, such as Sylvan and Chegg. It may also come back with local tutoring services. Be certain to check the local programs as well—local teachers often teach these programs and can relate them to specific school requirements.

How Do You Discover Your Learning Needs?

Picking whether you want an organized tutoring service or just some additional activities is a conversation that needs to happen between child, parent, and teacher. This is a critical point for students to communicate their needs. Even if you sign your child up for the best tutoring service, they might not show the improvement you hope for if they don’t want to be there and participate. Maybe it would be better to provide them with fun activities that could capture their imagination while teaching them valuable lessons. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everyone is on the same page. Communication is so important in this step, for both parents and students.  

Where to Start Searching?

When you first begin looking for information online, the results can be daunting. A simple google search comes back with billions of results in fractions of a second. If you’ve ever searched for something as broad as “learning resources,” then you know how difficult it can be to find what you’re actually searching for. By utilizing Google’s advanced search queries, you can get rid of the non credible sites with one easy trick. Add site:.edu or site:.gov to your search query and you should end up with only credible sites, such as “5th grade math resources site:.edu”. These .edu and .gov sites are normally some of the most reliable resources on the web, but make sure to double-check the content and sources on the site just to be sure.

A caveat to this strategy is if you are looking for full-service tutoring, then you may want to include .com and .org websites, as these are often private companies that specialize in tutoring. Just be sure to check the website for credibility before you give them any personal information.

If you’re looking for a fun activity on searching for credible sources, you can find lesson plans online to help teach your students.

Picking the Perfect Program and Beyond

Once you’ve discovered the programs or resources that you want to use, set up guidelines for using the new learning program. These guidelines should include expectations on how the student will utilize the program, how they will communicate their learning to their parents or teachers, and how they will stay safe while using the internet. Since the student in this scenario will be spending more time online, it’s crucial to set up a plan for cybersecurity. Spam and other non credible websites could lead to viruses and false learning. Follow these simple practices and you’re sure to maximize learning while minimizing risk. Stay up-to-date with your child’s learning and always encourage clear paths of communication. This simple step will help the student feel like they have a support system and make you both feel more secure in the digital world.

Author Bio

Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise and Newsday.

Teaching Kids about Privacy Settings

Parents face immense challenges due to continual advancements in technology and easy access to the internet. Mobile applications, daily web surfing, online video games have become the norm within every family. The ever changing social media landscape may be one of the most challenging issues for parents.

What’s hot now can be replaced by a new social media platforms within a short couple of years. In terms of learning, the latest websites or apps can  help young kids in primary school and beyond learn more efficiently while making it exciting.

No matter what kids are doing online, it’s important to revisit education regarding privacy settings on a regular basis.  Here are some points for consideration as parents navigate this topic.

1. Basic Rules for Kids

It is vital to set up some internet rules for your children at home. In order to keep children safe while online, examine the applications and devices which are used by each child and set up privacy tabs and parenting controls.

It is a good idea to sit with your children and teach them how to use the internet for their advantage in order to learn something new. Set up some basic rules for your children according to your household. For example, never to give passwords to anyone.  Whatever you post should not be disturbing and uncomfortable for others to watch.  And remember to get permission before giving any identifying or private information.

2. Explaining the Importance of the Privacy

No child or teen wants to be spied on, so it’s critically important to promote positive communication and explain to them why privacy concerns are so pressing. Ravenous demand for more and more content on social media puts a person under pressure to share something as well. Take time out to communicate with your kids what should and should not be shared because the world outside is watching.

Secondly, remind them to be civilized as their audience or friends might not have privacy settings. Communication about digital privacy is not a one time conversational.  Things change rapidly online and settings must also be reviewed regularly.   Kids need to understand and remember the value of staying safe in the virtual world.

3. Showing Respect

Respect and empathy are some of the basic skills every person should learn in life. While we talk about privacy settings, privacy itself is a fundamental right of each and every individual. Teach your kids to respect the privacy of others around them. It might not be feasible if they share someone’s information without their consent or post a picture without asking them. Teach your children to be careful about using anyone’s electronic device outside your home as well.

4. Using Privacy Settings

It is imperative to learn how to use the privacy settings for yourself first. This can be a challenge if you don’t even use the applications that your kids are using.  If in doubt, just “Google it” for tips and resources about a particular website or app.

While discussing this topic with younger children and teens, read the terms and conditions of a particular social media platform or app.  Do it with them and allow them to set and change their privacy settings during the conversation.   Such as:  the sharing any data, turning off location tracking or the microphone, using a strong password which cannot be copied or easily cracked.

As much as possible, stay away from public Wi-Fi to keep your connections safe. Making sure that the social media profiles of Facebook, Instagram, etc. are private so no one can excess your information.

5. Hire A Tutor

The issue of privacy setting is quite sensitive and complex. There are times when you are not able to teach your children the value of privacy effectively. In that rare scenario, it’s better to encourage teachers in their schools to have an extra session about this topic. If that is not possible, then consider hiring a tutor who can teach kids how to use the internet safely, browsing with them to help them understand the importance of privacy settings inside their home and within in any social surroundings.

Keeping Up with a Digital World

It may seem impossible to keep up with every social media site or app that kids are using these days.  Trust between parent and child, tween or teen is the starting point to keeping lines of communication open.  Ask your kids what apps they are using. This is a good start.  Chances are they are not even on Facebook anymore.  There are so many new and exciting options online and ultimately, young kids and teens will go where their friends are going.  As mentioned, open communication to build trust and a healthy environment within your home will go a long way to aid us all in this ever evolving digital age.

Parents face immense challenges due to continual advancements in technology and easy access to the internet. Mobile applications, daily web surfing, online video games have become the norm within every family. The ever changing social media landscape may be one of the most challenging issues for parents.

What’s hot now can be replaced by a new social media platforms within a short couple of years. In terms of learning, the latest websites or apps can  help young kids in primary school and beyond learn more efficiently while making it exciting.

No matter what kids are doing online, it’s important to revisit education regarding privacy settings on a regular basis.  Here are some points for consideration as parents navigate this topic.

1. Basic Rules for Kids

It is vital to set up some internet rules for your children at home. In order to keep children safe while online, examine the applications and devices which are used by each child and set up privacy tabs and parenting controls.

It is a good idea to sit with your children and teach them how to use the internet for their advantage in order to learn something new. Set up some basic rules for your children according to your household. For example, never to give passwords to anyone.  Whatever you post should not be disturbing and uncomfortable for others to watch.  And remember to get permission before giving any identifying or private information.

2. Explaining the Importance of the Privacy

No child or teen wants to be spied on, so it’s critically important to promote positive communication and explain to them why privacy concerns are so pressing. Ravenous demand for more and more content on social media puts a person under pressure to share something as well. Take time out to communicate with your kids what should and should not be shared because the world outside is watching.

Secondly, remind them to be civilized as their audience or friends might not have privacy settings. Communication about digital privacy is not a one time conversational.  Things change rapidly online and settings must also be reviewed regularly.   Kids need to understand and remember the value of staying safe in the virtual world.

3. Showing Respect

Respect and empathy are some of the basic skills every person should learn in life. While we talk about privacy settings, privacy itself is a fundamental right of each and every individual. Teach your kids to respect the privacy of others around them. It might not be feasible if they share someone’s information without their consent or post a picture without asking them. Teach your children to be careful about using anyone’s electronic device outside your home as well.

4. Using Privacy Settings

It is imperative to learn how to use the privacy settings for yourself first. This can be a challenge if you don’t even use the applications that your kids are using.  If in doubt, just “Google it” for tips and resources about a particular website or app.

While discussing this topic with younger children and teens, read the terms and conditions of a particular social media platform or app.  Do it with them and allow them to set and change their privacy settings during the conversation.   Such as:  the sharing any data, turning off location tracking or the microphone, using a strong password which cannot be copied or easily cracked.

As much as possible, stay away from public Wi-Fi to keep your connections safe. Making sure that the social media profiles of Facebook, Instagram, etc. are private so no one can excess your information.

5. Hire A Tutor

The issue of privacy setting is quite sensitive and complex. There are times when you are not able to teach your children the value of privacy effectively. In that rare scenario, it’s better to encourage teachers in their schools to have an extra session about this topic. If that is not possible, then consider hiring a tutor who can teach kids how to use the internet safely, browsing with them to help them understand the importance of privacy settings inside their home and within in any social surroundings.

Keeping Up with a Digital World

It may seem impossible to keep up with every social media site or app that kids are using these days.  Trust between parent and child, tween or teen is the starting point to keeping lines of communication open.  Ask your kids what apps they are using. This is a good start.  Chances are they are not even on Facebook anymore.  There are so many new and exciting options online and ultimately, young kids and teens will go where their friends are going.  As mentioned, open communication to build trust and a healthy environment within your home will go a long way to aid us all in this ever evolving digital age.

Why Outdoors Activities Are Essential for Children and Teens: Nature vs Technology

Safe Teens and Techonology

Technology definitely has a time and place in our schools and we owe it to our pupils to teach them proper ways to use their devices for learning and communicating. However, we can also probably agree there are some downsides to all of this tech in our student’s lives.

Technology which opens our students up to a variety of pitfalls of dangers that range anywhere from cyberbullying to the health consequences of inactive lifestyles.

As educators, it’s no great surprise today’s technology is changing the way we monitor our children, communicate, interact, and engage with our students and, everyday we are on the frontlines watching and coping with the consequences as they unfold.

This makes it essential that we slow down and re-evaluate the role we allow technology to play in our classrooms. This is especially vital when we consider teens are digitally connected for 9 hours everyday! Yes, that is almost the same amount of time spent in school. If that statistic isn’t jaw dropping enough, we need to factor in that their younger counterparts clock in over 6 daily hours and children younger than 8 net nearly 3 hours a day!.

This data inevitably means that our children are missing out on important opportunities and activities to interact, explore, observe, and learn about the world around them. Instead of building new relationships or mastering valuable life skills, our boys and girls are inevitably living a distracted life. This is difficult for us to face, because we can only control what our students do during the hours we have them entrusted to our care. One simple way we can counteract too much technology is by examining the importance of outdoors activities and find ways for kids to strike a happy balance.     

Why Outdoor Activities are Essential for Kids

Over the course of the last few decades, a lot has changed in education as we strive to include more technology and teach for the test. While this has helped push in more STEAM activities and HAL opportunities, it has also led to a significant decrease in the amount of time allocated for recess, physical education, and the fine arts. To put this trend into perspective, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, today’s children are spending approximately half the amount of time outside than we did when we were kids.

Listed below is a small sampling of why outdoor activities are essential for kids:

  • Poor indoor air quality is common in many schools. Fresh air is healthy!
  • There is an increased risk for obesity, hypertension, and more that comes with reduced exercise and sedentary lifestyles.
  • Green spaces have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels in children- and even adults. 
  • The outdoors provide exposure to dirt, germs, and bacteria which boost a child’s immune system.
  • Activities like gardening in the outdoors can help students develop observational skills and learn science concepts.
  • Sunlight provides beneficial vitamin D which can help energy levels and strengthen bones.
  • Adequate exposure to sunlight also helps set a child’s circadian rhythms, which will help them develop a proper sleep schedule to enhance social and educational performance in school.
  • Outdoor activities and green spaces naturally improve many of the symptoms related to ADHD in children.

The Dangers of Too Much Technology

The reasons why outdoor activities are essential for kids is pretty solid, but we can’t overlook the possible dangers associated with too much technology. Our students’ devices might be entertaining, but there are real reasons educators need to be concerned. The following list shows why we need to help students find a healthy balance with technology in their lives:

  • Direct links between overuse of social media and increases in depression, feelings of low self-esteem, and anxiety have been documented in young people.
  • Devices can interrupt or cause distraction during key learning times in a classroom.
  • Our kids might be set up for a lifetime of joint and neck pain if they don’t embrace proper ergonomics.
  • Digital devices and fast paced stimuli can actually physically alter a child’s brain.
  • The glow from our screens and constant notifications can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep schedules leading to poor sleep.
  • Overusing technology limits one-on-one communication opportunities for kids which may inhibit relationship and social skills development.

Looking Forward…

Technology is obviously here to stay and we can’t feasibly ban all devices from our schools. However, a little mindfulness and proactive planning can go a long way. With a little creative thinking  we can help students find a healthy balance with technology and nature.

What are your some ways you handle technology versus nature in your school?

Technology definitely has a time and place in our schools and we owe it to our pupils to teach them proper ways to use their devices for learning and communicating. However, we can also probably agree there are some downsides to all of this tech in our student’s lives.

Technology which opens our students up to a variety of pitfalls of dangers that range anywhere from cyberbullying to the health consequences of inactive lifestyles.

As educators, it’s no great surprise today’s technology is changing the way we monitor our children, communicate, interact, and engage with our students and, everyday we are on the frontlines watching and coping with the consequences as they unfold.

This makes it essential that we slow down and re-evaluate the role we allow technology to play in our classrooms. This is especially vital when we consider teens are digitally connected for 9 hours everyday! Yes, that is almost the same amount of time spent in school. If that statistic isn’t jaw dropping enough, we need to factor in that their younger counterparts clock in over 6 daily hours and children younger than 8 net nearly 3 hours a day!.

This data inevitably means that our children are missing out on important opportunities and activities to interact, explore, observe, and learn about the world around them. Instead of building new relationships or mastering valuable life skills, our boys and girls are inevitably living a distracted life. This is difficult for us to face, because we can only control what our students do during the hours we have them entrusted to our care. One simple way we can counteract too much technology is by examining the importance of outdoors activities and find ways for kids to strike a happy balance.     

Why Outdoor Activities are Essential for Kids

Over the course of the last few decades, a lot has changed in education as we strive to include more technology and teach for the test. While this has helped push in more STEAM activities and HAL opportunities, it has also led to a significant decrease in the amount of time allocated for recess, physical education, and the fine arts. To put this trend into perspective, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, today’s children are spending approximately half the amount of time outside than we did when we were kids.

Listed below is a small sampling of why outdoor activities are essential for kids:

  • Poor indoor air quality is common in many schools. Fresh air is healthy!
  • There is an increased risk for obesity, hypertension, and more that comes with reduced exercise and sedentary lifestyles.
  • Green spaces have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels in children- and even adults. 
  • The outdoors provide exposure to dirt, germs, and bacteria which boost a child’s immune system.
  • Activities like gardening in the outdoors can help students develop observational skills and learn science concepts.
  • Sunlight provides beneficial vitamin D which can help energy levels and strengthen bones.
  • Adequate exposure to sunlight also helps set a child’s circadian rhythms, which will help them develop a proper sleep schedule to enhance social and educational performance in school.
  • Outdoor activities and green spaces naturally improve many of the symptoms related to ADHD in children.

The Dangers of Too Much Technology

The reasons why outdoor activities are essential for kids is pretty solid, but we can’t overlook the possible dangers associated with too much technology. Our students’ devices might be entertaining, but there are real reasons educators need to be concerned. The following list shows why we need to help students find a healthy balance with technology in their lives:

  • Direct links between overuse of social media and increases in depression, feelings of low self-esteem, and anxiety have been documented in young people.
  • Devices can interrupt or cause distraction during key learning times in a classroom.
  • Our kids might be set up for a lifetime of joint and neck pain if they don’t embrace proper ergonomics.
  • Digital devices and fast paced stimuli can actually physically alter a child’s brain.
  • The glow from our screens and constant notifications can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep schedules leading to poor sleep.
  • Overusing technology limits one-on-one communication opportunities for kids which may inhibit relationship and social skills development.

Looking Forward…

Technology is obviously here to stay and we can’t feasibly ban all devices from our schools. However, a little mindfulness and proactive planning can go a long way. With a little creative thinking  we can help students find a healthy balance with technology and nature.

What are your some ways you handle technology versus nature in your school?

How to Know What to Trust Online

Finding fun games, learning cool new things, and talking to your friends is what the internet is for. But just like in real life, you have to be smart and safe. It might seem silly to think about safety when you’re on the web alone in your room, but it’s important to make sure you’re trusting the right sites and people.

Unfortunately, some bad people on the internet may try to scam you out of money or your personal identity, which can cause a lot of problems. You might also pick up viruses or malware, which will load your computer with advertisements or misleading links.

(This article is directed at kids, but parents can pick up some knowledge too).

Ask your parents what’s safe

If you and your parents discuss ahead of time which sites and activities are okay, you’ll run into far fewer problems. For an easy way to stay on the right sites, ask your parents to make a folder with links to all your favorite websites saved inside. That way, you won’t accidentally go somewhere else.

This applies when you’re at school too. Just because your parents approve of something doesn’t mean your teachers will. Schools are usually a little more watchful of websites and may even have blockers for specific sites or searches.

Social media and apps

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites can be a great way to connect with friends and people with similar interests, but it’s also where a lot of trolls set up camp. Keep your profile private and your circle small.

When it comes to apps, you can usually spot a bad one by how it’s advertised and how often ads pop up. Sometimes you can make in-app purchases and upgrade to remove ads, but you should get these approved by your parents.

Don’t talk to strangers

You’ve probably heard this before, but the easiest way to stay safe online is by only friending, following, and talking with people you know in real life. Although you can stay mostly anonymous in chat rooms, it’s important to remember that others can, too, and a stranger can easily pretend to be someone they’re not. With this in mind, it’s worth it to approach every chat with caution.

Sometimes a stranger will seem friendly, but then they’ll ask for something in return. Don’t click any links they send, and don’t give out any of your personal information. What counts as personal information? Things like your name, family, address, school, or anything else that can help them identify you.

If you do plan to visit stranger-filled sites, make sure to check with your parents and ask them if anything seems fishy.

Don’t reply to people with weird usernames

A friendly “Hi” with a heart emoji might seem harmless, but when it comes from a username like puppycutie88398, it’s probably a sign that it’s spam (messages meant to scam people). You can tell a username is fishy because it has random numbers, usually combined with two common words or names.

Strange usernames and strangely-phrased messages are a good indicator of spam. These spammers could be trying to sell you something (and perhaps steal your money by selling a fake product), steal and misuse your personal information, or build a friendship initially order to scam you later.

Either way, sometimes simply responding gives these people (or sometimes robots) a sign that they might be able to hack into your information, and that could lead to more requests. Ignore these messages altogether and avoid future problems.

Set up privacy settings

When you take the time to make sure your online profiles are private, strangers are less likely to bug you. Sometimes it might not even seem like a big deal to post a picture online of you and your friends, but an online predator might catch on to what schools or parks you hang out at.

Parental controls are less about taking away your freedom and more about protecting you. If something that’s blocked seems fine to you, ask your parents if they approve of it and they can remove the block.

Turn off location settings

One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re not being tracked, or that a post won’t reveal where you are, is to turn off location settings. Most of the time, apps and social media will ask for permission to share this info first, but it’s always good to double-check your settings.

Additional tips:

  • Popular apps are usually safer by nature, but with more people comes more potential for problems. Even if an app itself is safe, the users may not be, so use caution no matter which app you’re using.
  • Any time you have to put in personal information beyond a username or email for an account, get a parent involved. You should avoid putting in your address, payment information, or any other personal info on your own.
  • Make sure to turn on safe search filters for Google and other search engines, especially when looking for images. Some questionable content may come up just because it has a similar name to what you’re searching for, so safe search filters can help weed out things you don’t want to see.

Finding fun games, learning cool new things, and talking to your friends is what the internet is for. But just like in real life, you have to be smart and safe. It might seem silly to think about safety when you’re on the web alone in your room, but it’s important to make sure you’re trusting the right sites and people.

Unfortunately, some bad people on the internet may try to scam you out of money or your personal identity, which can cause a lot of problems. You might also pick up viruses or malware, which will load your computer with advertisements or misleading links.

(This article is directed at kids, but parents can pick up some knowledge too).

Ask your parents what’s safe

If you and your parents discuss ahead of time which sites and activities are okay, you’ll run into far fewer problems. For an easy way to stay on the right sites, ask your parents to make a folder with links to all your favorite websites saved inside. That way, you won’t accidentally go somewhere else.

This applies when you’re at school too. Just because your parents approve of something doesn’t mean your teachers will. Schools are usually a little more watchful of websites and may even have blockers for specific sites or searches.

Social media and apps

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites can be a great way to connect with friends and people with similar interests, but it’s also where a lot of trolls set up camp. Keep your profile private and your circle small.

When it comes to apps, you can usually spot a bad one by how it’s advertised and how often ads pop up. Sometimes you can make in-app purchases and upgrade to remove ads, but you should get these approved by your parents.

Don’t talk to strangers

You’ve probably heard this before, but the easiest way to stay safe online is by only friending, following, and talking with people you know in real life. Although you can stay mostly anonymous in chat rooms, it’s important to remember that others can, too, and a stranger can easily pretend to be someone they’re not. With this in mind, it’s worth it to approach every chat with caution.

Sometimes a stranger will seem friendly, but then they’ll ask for something in return. Don’t click any links they send, and don’t give out any of your personal information. What counts as personal information? Things like your name, family, address, school, or anything else that can help them identify you.

If you do plan to visit stranger-filled sites, make sure to check with your parents and ask them if anything seems fishy.

Don’t reply to people with weird usernames

A friendly “Hi” with a heart emoji might seem harmless, but when it comes from a username like puppycutie88398, it’s probably a sign that it’s spam (messages meant to scam people). You can tell a username is fishy because it has random numbers, usually combined with two common words or names.

Strange usernames and strangely-phrased messages are a good indicator of spam. These spammers could be trying to sell you something (and perhaps steal your money by selling a fake product), steal and misuse your personal information, or build a friendship initially order to scam you later.

Either way, sometimes simply responding gives these people (or sometimes robots) a sign that they might be able to hack into your information, and that could lead to more requests. Ignore these messages altogether and avoid future problems.

Set up privacy settings

When you take the time to make sure your online profiles are private, strangers are less likely to bug you. Sometimes it might not even seem like a big deal to post a picture online of you and your friends, but an online predator might catch on to what schools or parks you hang out at.

Parental controls are less about taking away your freedom and more about protecting you. If something that’s blocked seems fine to you, ask your parents if they approve of it and they can remove the block.

Turn off location settings

One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re not being tracked, or that a post won’t reveal where you are, is to turn off location settings. Most of the time, apps and social media will ask for permission to share this info first, but it’s always good to double-check your settings.

Additional tips:

  • Popular apps are usually safer by nature, but with more people comes more potential for problems. Even if an app itself is safe, the users may not be, so use caution no matter which app you’re using.
  • Any time you have to put in personal information beyond a username or email for an account, get a parent involved. You should avoid putting in your address, payment information, or any other personal info on your own.
  • Make sure to turn on safe search filters for Google and other search engines, especially when looking for images. Some questionable content may come up just because it has a similar name to what you’re searching for, so safe search filters can help weed out things you don’t want to see.