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Category: Articles for Parents / Educators

Why Do Some Kids Love School?

School is pretty much a job that we give to kids.  Like the jobs we have as adults it is the place you must show up to every day, even when you don’t want to go.  The business of learning is work.  It involves mental focus and self-discipline.  That discipline is an important part of how school shapes kids.

The important knowledge and skills that classes such as math, science, history, languages, and English are critical to helping children become well-rounded, intelligent adults but the self-discipline it takes to show up every day, work with others and finish the assigned work might be the most important skill school can instill in us.

The work that kids must put into school and the social anxiety that can come from learning how to interact with other people every day should make it easy to understand why many kids struggle with school.  School can be an unpleasant experience for kids with learning disabilities, kids who have a conflict with teachers, kids who have social anxiety, kids who are bullied, and kids who struggle with the self-discipline you need to be a good student.  Some people simply don’t like school, and some even go as far as being scared to death of going to school (known as Didaskaleinophobia).

So, if school has the potential to be such an unpleasant experience, why do some kids love school so much?  We all went to school with some classmates who were full of enthusiasm and clearly enjoyed their classes.  What can we do to encourage any child to have a positive experience in school and have a huge smile on their face when they step foot into school?  It is possible to make school a place that even kids who were less than excited about going to school come to love.  We explore five ways to make sure kids love school.

1. Make learning interactive and creative.

Different kids have different learning styles.  Some kids can do well with traditional learning.  They can listen to a lecture, take notes, read textbooks and study, and earn good grades on quizzes and test.  That simply isn’t the case with many kids.  For them, learning needs to be an active, creative process.  They need to be presented with choices in how they will approach learning and they need to be up from their desks and engaged in learning activities.  Even students who do well with traditional teaching methods benefit from this approach.  An engaged student who is empowered to make choices is far more likely to love school.

2. Adults should be role models.

Kids look to adults to model how to behave.  Attitude is contagious!  Every day children are essentially at the mercy of adults.  They must listen to their parents, teachers, coaches, instructors, principals, guidance councilors and other adults.  It is important for kids to be taught respect for adults, but it is also import for adults who are parents or work with kids to remember how much their own attitude affect the kids they are in contact with every day.  If their teachers and the other adults at school enjoy being there then so will the kids.

3. Adults are not the only ones who need work/life balance.

When you become an adult, it can be easy to envy kids their freedom.  With the pressures of bills, work, and parenting it can seem like kids have it easy by comparison.  Today, kids are under a lot of pressure to make good grades, be involved in multiple extracurricular activities and deal with the social pressures of school, which have only become more intense thanks to social media.  In order for them to love school, they need help balancing their schedule.  It is important for them to figure out how to manage their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and free time without becoming overscheduled and stressed out.  With a healthy work/life balance, they will be able to love school.

4. Help kids identify their interests and strengths.

Part of growing up is figuring who you are, what your interests are and what direction you want your life to go in.  That is a tall order!  Kids need room to experiment with different classes and different extracurricular activities.  Some they may quickly give up on.  Others may radically shape who they become and what they do with their life.  Their parents, teachers and the other adults around them should support this process.

5. Foster an environment that is supportive of all kids.

There is a growing awareness of the effect that school bullying and the toxic morass of the online world has on children and their development.  It is crucial for schools to actively promote a school environment that encourages kids who are struggling socially and experiencing bullying to seek help.  It is also crucial for that help to be available.  Too often children who tried to get help were dismissed and bullying was seen as normal childhood behavior.  For kids to love school it needs to be a place they feel safe, respected and listened to.  It also needs to be a place they can develop healthy friendships that enrich their lives.

School is pretty much a job that we give to kids.  Like the jobs we have as adults it is the place you must show up to every day, even when you don’t want to go.  The business of learning is work.  It involves mental focus and self-discipline.  That discipline is an important part of how school shapes kids.

The important knowledge and skills that classes such as math, science, history, languages, and English are critical to helping children become well-rounded, intelligent adults but the self-discipline it takes to show up every day, work with others and finish the assigned work might be the most important skill school can instill in us.

The work that kids must put into school and the social anxiety that can come from learning how to interact with other people every day should make it easy to understand why many kids struggle with school.  School can be an unpleasant experience for kids with learning disabilities, kids who have a conflict with teachers, kids who have social anxiety, kids who are bullied, and kids who struggle with the self-discipline you need to be a good student.  Some people simply don’t like school, and some even go as far as being scared to death of going to school (known as Didaskaleinophobia).

So, if school has the potential to be such an unpleasant experience, why do some kids love school so much?  We all went to school with some classmates who were full of enthusiasm and clearly enjoyed their classes.  What can we do to encourage any child to have a positive experience in school and have a huge smile on their face when they step foot into school?  It is possible to make school a place that even kids who were less than excited about going to school come to love.  We explore five ways to make sure kids love school.

1. Make learning interactive and creative.

Different kids have different learning styles.  Some kids can do well with traditional learning.  They can listen to a lecture, take notes, read textbooks and study, and earn good grades on quizzes and test.  That simply isn’t the case with many kids.  For them, learning needs to be an active, creative process.  They need to be presented with choices in how they will approach learning and they need to be up from their desks and engaged in learning activities.  Even students who do well with traditional teaching methods benefit from this approach.  An engaged student who is empowered to make choices is far more likely to love school.

2. Adults should be role models.

Kids look to adults to model how to behave.  Attitude is contagious!  Every day children are essentially at the mercy of adults.  They must listen to their parents, teachers, coaches, instructors, principals, guidance councilors and other adults.  It is important for kids to be taught respect for adults, but it is also import for adults who are parents or work with kids to remember how much their own attitude affect the kids they are in contact with every day.  If their teachers and the other adults at school enjoy being there then so will the kids.

3. Adults are not the only ones who need work/life balance.

When you become an adult, it can be easy to envy kids their freedom.  With the pressures of bills, work, and parenting it can seem like kids have it easy by comparison.  Today, kids are under a lot of pressure to make good grades, be involved in multiple extracurricular activities and deal with the social pressures of school, which have only become more intense thanks to social media.  In order for them to love school, they need help balancing their schedule.  It is important for them to figure out how to manage their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and free time without becoming overscheduled and stressed out.  With a healthy work/life balance, they will be able to love school.

4. Help kids identify their interests and strengths.

Part of growing up is figuring who you are, what your interests are and what direction you want your life to go in.  That is a tall order!  Kids need room to experiment with different classes and different extracurricular activities.  Some they may quickly give up on.  Others may radically shape who they become and what they do with their life.  Their parents, teachers and the other adults around them should support this process.

5. Foster an environment that is supportive of all kids.

There is a growing awareness of the effect that school bullying and the toxic morass of the online world has on children and their development.  It is crucial for schools to actively promote a school environment that encourages kids who are struggling socially and experiencing bullying to seek help.  It is also crucial for that help to be available.  Too often children who tried to get help were dismissed and bullying was seen as normal childhood behavior.  For kids to love school it needs to be a place they feel safe, respected and listened to.  It also needs to be a place they can develop healthy friendships that enrich their lives.

5 Fun Online Activities That Give Kids a Confidence Boost

How to Build Confidence in Kids

Is your child a little shy? Do they suffer from a lack of self-esteem? It’s a difficult time to be a child. With so many distractions, it can be easy to put personal relationships on the back burner.  Children can dive down a black hole into the internet void, spend countless hours completing video game campaigns, and plug into the virtual world.

While they’re doing this, they can tune out others and lose grasp of meaningful relationships. Once these relationships disappear, the impact can translate into other realms of your child’s life. They may lose the confidence to talk freely and openly to others or second guess their ability to do well in other aspects of their life such as schoolwork. 

Sometimes the internet, a place designed to connect individuals across the globe, can feel daunting and dividing. When this transposes itself into ordinary life, it can become a problem and a burden. That is why I put together a list of online activities that stray from the gloom and doom and promote healthy habits and elevate self-esteem. 

Afterschool Gaming Clubs

Does your child’s school offer after school programming? If they do, odds are that they may have a program specific to online gaming or video game creation. If not, then try checking out local community centers. If all else fails, these resources will help you create your own after school program. 

These types of clubs are becoming more and more prevalent and can create a sense of community with your child. Not all kids are into sports or art. These clubs are the perfect option for the video game obsessed youth and can offer more than just a community of fellow gamers. Some clubs dive into video game creation and actually allow the students to create their own games, teaching meaningful skills while enjoying games with peers. This sense of community can be extremely important for boosting the learning and the self-esteem of your child. 

Educational Games 

Online educational games are not only fun, but they can provide your child with the confidence necessary to speak up in class. Kids are much more likely to raise their hand and participate when they have background knowledge on the topic. These educational games are the perfect way to get something out of time spent online.

There are tons of online educators out there. It is only a matter of knowing where to search to find the organizations that have put together games meant to further learning. Learn how to refine your search to find highly reputable site to try out, such as found on this online educational games.

Kid-Friendly Social Media Sites

Social media is a scary place, even for adults. But, there are platforms out there specifically for kids. At first you may think that this sounds like a terrible idea and an easy way for strangers to interact with your child. But, these sites take safety seriously. Unlike the Myspace and Facebook’s of the world, these sites are focused on safety and provide a great introduction to social media for kids of various ages.

Most of these sites allow parents to control their child’s overall usage and monitor their accounts. This means that your child can enjoy the interaction with peers, while you assure they don’t go overboard with it. Some sites are extremely basic and only offer the simplest of features, while some are in-depth and showcase some top-notch safety features, such as required background checks. It may be best to monitor your child’s presence on these sites at first, but eventually these social media sites should provide your child with communication skills that will transfer to the real world. 

Geocaching

Have you heard of geocaching? This is a great activity for young kids to do with the rest of the family or a wholesome activity for older kids to take part in with friends. Not only does this activity get you outside, but through their easy to use app you join an online community of treasure hunters.

So, what is geocaching? Geocaching utilizes GPS coordinates to show the locations of various geocaches (containers/treasure chests). Individuals then navigate to the geocache and find hidden goods. There are several different categories of geocaches that keep the search interesting every time. You can solve a puzzle to discover coordinates or find geocaches specific to major landmarks. This interactive community allows you to utilize your online skills to navigate the real world. 

While it is great for children to be outside exploring, it can also be very stressful for a parent. If you have older children and want to keep track of their whereabouts while they’re out and about exploring, then I suggest investing in a GPS-based tracker to ease your worries. 

iNaturalist

This is an environmentally-focused parent’s best friend. Not only does this app (also web-based) offer the opportunity to learn about different species, but similar to geocaching, it also gets kids outside. Look out for something called a “bioblitz” in your area. The National Park System, as well as numerous State Park Systems and non-profits hold these events to gather as many observations as possible in a specific period of time. For instance, while I worked for Tennessee State Parks, we developed a statewide bioblitz and created a variety of family-friendly programming around the event. This can be a great way to get out with the family and explore an area otherwise not accessible. 

The feeling of discovery can be a tremendous joy for children and adults alike. By discovering different plant and animal species, children learn about the natural world and increase their observational skills. This can translate directly to social and academic situations. According to childrensmuseums.org, “The informal understanding children gain through experimentation, observation, and comparison in play lays the foundation for higher-order thinking and later learning of formal STEM concepts”. For more information on iNaturalist and how it can benefit your child’s learning check out their site

Conclusion

Regardless of which avenue you and your child take, the most important thing for improving self-esteem is the feeling of inclusion. These activities provide a community for your child to become a part of and share experiences. Those experiences will help define your child as an individual and grant them an identity to believe in. Hopefully, after discovering themselves and learning to believe in their abilities, your children will transfer this new, increased self-esteem into every aspect of their lives. So, get them involved and start building those memories.

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, USA Today, and Newsday.

Is your child a little shy? Do they suffer from a lack of self-esteem? It’s a difficult time to be a child. With so many distractions, it can be easy to put personal relationships on the back burner.  Children can dive down a black hole into the internet void, spend countless hours completing video game campaigns, and plug into the virtual world.

While they’re doing this, they can tune out others and lose grasp of meaningful relationships. Once these relationships disappear, the impact can translate into other realms of your child’s life. They may lose the confidence to talk freely and openly to others or second guess their ability to do well in other aspects of their life such as schoolwork. 

Sometimes the internet, a place designed to connect individuals across the globe, can feel daunting and dividing. When this transposes itself into ordinary life, it can become a problem and a burden. That is why I put together a list of online activities that stray from the gloom and doom and promote healthy habits and elevate self-esteem. 

Afterschool Gaming Clubs

Does your child’s school offer after school programming? If they do, odds are that they may have a program specific to online gaming or video game creation. If not, then try checking out local community centers. If all else fails, these resources will help you create your own after school program. 

These types of clubs are becoming more and more prevalent and can create a sense of community with your child. Not all kids are into sports or art. These clubs are the perfect option for the video game obsessed youth and can offer more than just a community of fellow gamers. Some clubs dive into video game creation and actually allow the students to create their own games, teaching meaningful skills while enjoying games with peers. This sense of community can be extremely important for boosting the learning and the self-esteem of your child. 

Educational Games 

Online educational games are not only fun, but they can provide your child with the confidence necessary to speak up in class. Kids are much more likely to raise their hand and participate when they have background knowledge on the topic. These educational games are the perfect way to get something out of time spent online.

There are tons of online educators out there. It is only a matter of knowing where to search to find the organizations that have put together games meant to further learning. Learn how to refine your search to find highly reputable site to try out, such as found on this online educational games.

Kid-Friendly Social Media Sites

Social media is a scary place, even for adults. But, there are platforms out there specifically for kids. At first you may think that this sounds like a terrible idea and an easy way for strangers to interact with your child. But, these sites take safety seriously. Unlike the Myspace and Facebook’s of the world, these sites are focused on safety and provide a great introduction to social media for kids of various ages.

Most of these sites allow parents to control their child’s overall usage and monitor their accounts. This means that your child can enjoy the interaction with peers, while you assure they don’t go overboard with it. Some sites are extremely basic and only offer the simplest of features, while some are in-depth and showcase some top-notch safety features, such as required background checks. It may be best to monitor your child’s presence on these sites at first, but eventually these social media sites should provide your child with communication skills that will transfer to the real world. 

Geocaching

Have you heard of geocaching? This is a great activity for young kids to do with the rest of the family or a wholesome activity for older kids to take part in with friends. Not only does this activity get you outside, but through their easy to use app you join an online community of treasure hunters.

So, what is geocaching? Geocaching utilizes GPS coordinates to show the locations of various geocaches (containers/treasure chests). Individuals then navigate to the geocache and find hidden goods. There are several different categories of geocaches that keep the search interesting every time. You can solve a puzzle to discover coordinates or find geocaches specific to major landmarks. This interactive community allows you to utilize your online skills to navigate the real world. 

While it is great for children to be outside exploring, it can also be very stressful for a parent. If you have older children and want to keep track of their whereabouts while they’re out and about exploring, then I suggest investing in a GPS-based tracker to ease your worries. 

iNaturalist

This is an environmentally-focused parent’s best friend. Not only does this app (also web-based) offer the opportunity to learn about different species, but similar to geocaching, it also gets kids outside. Look out for something called a “bioblitz” in your area. The National Park System, as well as numerous State Park Systems and non-profits hold these events to gather as many observations as possible in a specific period of time. For instance, while I worked for Tennessee State Parks, we developed a statewide bioblitz and created a variety of family-friendly programming around the event. This can be a great way to get out with the family and explore an area otherwise not accessible. 

The feeling of discovery can be a tremendous joy for children and adults alike. By discovering different plant and animal species, children learn about the natural world and increase their observational skills. This can translate directly to social and academic situations. According to childrensmuseums.org, “The informal understanding children gain through experimentation, observation, and comparison in play lays the foundation for higher-order thinking and later learning of formal STEM concepts”. For more information on iNaturalist and how it can benefit your child’s learning check out their site

Conclusion

Regardless of which avenue you and your child take, the most important thing for improving self-esteem is the feeling of inclusion. These activities provide a community for your child to become a part of and share experiences. Those experiences will help define your child as an individual and grant them an identity to believe in. Hopefully, after discovering themselves and learning to believe in their abilities, your children will transfer this new, increased self-esteem into every aspect of their lives. So, get them involved and start building those memories.

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, USA Today, and Newsday.

4 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Good Online Behavior

Parents Talking to Kids About Online Safety

Today, access to the internet is pervasive. And while the internet has many benefits, it also carries some risks. As parents, you need to talk to your kids about how to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s how you can start the conversation and build a safe online environment for your family. 

1. Start early

Today, exposure to the internet begins at a young age. Yet 18% of teens say they haven’t talked with anybody about what good online behavior looks like. Don’t wait to start talking to your kids about proper internet behavior and setting appropriate boundaries.

For younger children, this might be as simple as setting time limits on screen use, disciplining yourself not to use technology as a pacifier to calm rowdy behavior, and encouraging offline play and interactions.

As your kids get older, budget more screen time paired with more responsibility and accountability. Eventually, you can also start introducing more mature topics of conversation, such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and privacy.

By opening the lines of communication early, you can set clear expectations from the start and help guide your kids along the way.     

2. Do your homework

Before you sit down with your child, brush up on the latest internet trends and social apps. If your kid uses social media, what channels are they active on?

Some of the most popular platforms for today’s teens and tweens include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Kik Messenger
  • Tumblr 
  • Tik Tok

Despite their popularity, these apps carry risks—particularly for budding teens and young adults who are still learning how to navigate the internet and digital relationships.

In order to give your child the best guidance, you need to understand what platforms they are using and how those apps work—including their privacy settings, age requirements, and the kind of information that is shared. Armed with that knowledge, you can set appropriate boundaries and educate your child on the risks and best practices for online safety. 

3. Explain the risks

Once you understand how your kids engage online, you can better address the specific risks involved.

Talk to your kids about these risks (as developmentally appropriate). By outlining the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors, you can help your children understand not only what they should do, but why.

As you discuss internet safety, consider teaching your children about the following:

  • Privacy issues: Oversharing personal information or details could put you at risk for identity theft or embarrassment. 
  • Harassment or bullying: Many apps and social platforms make it easy for kids and adults alike to participate in bullying behavior—whether that’s spreading gossip, sharing others’ private content (like sensitive photos), or writing hurtful comments. 
  • Reputation management: What happens on the internet doesn’t just go away. Things that happened online years ago could come up again later in life, such as during college applications or job interviews.  

Explain that because of these risks, you will be setting certain rules and guidelines for how the family uses the internet. 

4. Set expectations 

As with other areas of parenting, internet use in your household should have clear guidelines based on your family values and each kid’s maturity level. Setting limits isn’t always easy—especially if you are parenting a teenager—but it is important to be open and honest about what you expect of them and how they will be held accountable.

The exact limits you set will depend on your child’s age and maturity. Keep in mind that you will likely need to revisit your “house rules” with the family periodically as your children grow and they adopt new technology (e.g., upgrading to a smartphone).

In addition to time limits, consider outlining basic dos and don’ts of online behavior. These might include:

  • Never share passwords, addresses, or other private information over the internet.
  • Don’t illegally download content.
  • Don’t download unknown files from the internet (or ask an adult to check potential downloads).  
  • Avoid accepting friend requests or messages from strangers.
  • Never set up a meeting with someone you’ve only talked to online.
  • Be respectful; remember that online anonymity isn’t an excuse for bullying or other meanspirited behavior.
  • Don’t share friends’ information or content without permission. 
  • Always sign out of accounts when using public computers. 

Sit down with your children and explain your expectations and map these guidelines in a formal family media use plan.

Teaching your kids about internet safety and good online habits takes time and patience. It is not a one-off event but an ongoing conversation. As you stay involved in their lives—both online and offline—you will be able to guide them more effectively and help them develop into successful digital citizens.  

Today, access to the internet is pervasive. And while the internet has many benefits, it also carries some risks. As parents, you need to talk to your kids about how to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s how you can start the conversation and build a safe online environment for your family. 

1. Start early

Today, exposure to the internet begins at a young age. Yet 18% of teens say they haven’t talked with anybody about what good online behavior looks like. Don’t wait to start talking to your kids about proper internet behavior and setting appropriate boundaries.

For younger children, this might be as simple as setting time limits on screen use, disciplining yourself not to use technology as a pacifier to calm rowdy behavior, and encouraging offline play and interactions.

As your kids get older, budget more screen time paired with more responsibility and accountability. Eventually, you can also start introducing more mature topics of conversation, such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and privacy.

By opening the lines of communication early, you can set clear expectations from the start and help guide your kids along the way.     

2. Do your homework

Before you sit down with your child, brush up on the latest internet trends and social apps. If your kid uses social media, what channels are they active on?

Some of the most popular platforms for today’s teens and tweens include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Kik Messenger
  • Tumblr 
  • Tik Tok

Despite their popularity, these apps carry risks—particularly for budding teens and young adults who are still learning how to navigate the internet and digital relationships.

In order to give your child the best guidance, you need to understand what platforms they are using and how those apps work—including their privacy settings, age requirements, and the kind of information that is shared. Armed with that knowledge, you can set appropriate boundaries and educate your child on the risks and best practices for online safety. 

3. Explain the risks

Once you understand how your kids engage online, you can better address the specific risks involved.

Talk to your kids about these risks (as developmentally appropriate). By outlining the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors, you can help your children understand not only what they should do, but why.

As you discuss internet safety, consider teaching your children about the following:

  • Privacy issues: Oversharing personal information or details could put you at risk for identity theft or embarrassment. 
  • Harassment or bullying: Many apps and social platforms make it easy for kids and adults alike to participate in bullying behavior—whether that’s spreading gossip, sharing others’ private content (like sensitive photos), or writing hurtful comments. 
  • Reputation management: What happens on the internet doesn’t just go away. Things that happened online years ago could come up again later in life, such as during college applications or job interviews.  

Explain that because of these risks, you will be setting certain rules and guidelines for how the family uses the internet. 

4. Set expectations 

As with other areas of parenting, internet use in your household should have clear guidelines based on your family values and each kid’s maturity level. Setting limits isn’t always easy—especially if you are parenting a teenager—but it is important to be open and honest about what you expect of them and how they will be held accountable.

The exact limits you set will depend on your child’s age and maturity. Keep in mind that you will likely need to revisit your “house rules” with the family periodically as your children grow and they adopt new technology (e.g., upgrading to a smartphone).

In addition to time limits, consider outlining basic dos and don’ts of online behavior. These might include:

  • Never share passwords, addresses, or other private information over the internet.
  • Don’t illegally download content.
  • Don’t download unknown files from the internet (or ask an adult to check potential downloads).  
  • Avoid accepting friend requests or messages from strangers.
  • Never set up a meeting with someone you’ve only talked to online.
  • Be respectful; remember that online anonymity isn’t an excuse for bullying or other meanspirited behavior.
  • Don’t share friends’ information or content without permission. 
  • Always sign out of accounts when using public computers. 

Sit down with your children and explain your expectations and map these guidelines in a formal family media use plan.

Teaching your kids about internet safety and good online habits takes time and patience. It is not a one-off event but an ongoing conversation. As you stay involved in their lives—both online and offline—you will be able to guide them more effectively and help them develop into successful digital citizens.  

Online Summer Safety Tips for Kids

Summer Fun

School’s out, and that means your kids have lots of time free to spend online chatting, making plans with friends, and posting fun summertime photos—sometimes without you there to supervise. If that gives you anxiety, fear not. Here are four steps that will keep keep your child safe online this summer.

1. Set Rules for Responsible Use

Sit down with your children and talk frankly about why you care about their online safety, covering big topics like cyberbullying or identity theft in a way that matches their maturity level. Then work together to define clear, understandable rules for their online interactions. Here are a few basics to consider:

  • Never post personal info like addresses and phone numbers on social media.
  • Avoid location check-ins and photo geo-tagging, which can be used to track where you are as well as when you are away from home.
  • Be wary of free games and other goodies, which can infect your devices with malware. Keep security software up to date and scan everything before downloading.
  • Use secure passwords and protect them. There are several password managers out there that can generate strong passwords and store them all in one place.

Once you’ve agreed upon the ground rules, put them into a contract to be signed by everyone in the family.

2. Follow Your Own Rules

This is an important follow-up to the previous rule. You want your kids not to text or go online after 10 p.m.? Shut down your phone and laptop at the same time.

Don’t want them posting embarrassing photos of you? Let them veto pictures they may not be happy with you sharing on social media, too.

If you can adhere to the rules you and your kids built together, they will feel more inclined to do so as well.

3. Build Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

In a world abounding with fake news, help your kids think critically about any content they find online. Encourage older kids especially to fact-check stories before reposting on Facebook or commenting on Twitter.

Teach them to question their own motives as well. Just because a comment will generate a lot of likes, that doesn’t mean they should post it. Even one poorly chosen post can cause problems down the line.

The Family Online Safety Institute has also developed a checklist that includes reminders to remove and untag unwanted posts, and to “accentuate the positive” by posting upbeat content.

4. Let Your Kids Know You Will Still Monitor Online Usage

Finally, let your kids know that you may occasionally check up on their activity. Being upfront about your plans to look at their browser history and monitor their Facebook account will establish a sense of trust and keep them accountable.

For young kids who need a bit more oversight, there are plenty of helpful apps available to let you keep an eye on them. Older kids and teens may not need (or want) as much monitoring, so for them, you may be able to check in less often. To really emphasize trust, you can even ask them to put their passwords into a piggy bank for use only in an emergency.

The internet can be a great resource for helping kids learn and be social during their school-free summer months, and following the steps listed here will help them do so smartly, responsibly, and safely.

School’s out, and that means your kids have lots of time free to spend online chatting, making plans with friends, and posting fun summertime photos—sometimes without you there to supervise. If that gives you anxiety, fear not. Here are four steps that will keep keep your child safe online this summer.

1. Set Rules for Responsible Use

Sit down with your children and talk frankly about why you care about their online safety, covering big topics like cyberbullying or identity theft in a way that matches their maturity level. Then work together to define clear, understandable rules for their online interactions. Here are a few basics to consider:

  • Never post personal info like addresses and phone numbers on social media.
  • Avoid location check-ins and photo geo-tagging, which can be used to track where you are as well as when you are away from home.
  • Be wary of free games and other goodies, which can infect your devices with malware. Keep security software up to date and scan everything before downloading.
  • Use secure passwords and protect them. There are several password managers out there that can generate strong passwords and store them all in one place.

Once you’ve agreed upon the ground rules, put them into a contract to be signed by everyone in the family.

2. Follow Your Own Rules

This is an important follow-up to the previous rule. You want your kids not to text or go online after 10 p.m.? Shut down your phone and laptop at the same time.

Don’t want them posting embarrassing photos of you? Let them veto pictures they may not be happy with you sharing on social media, too.

If you can adhere to the rules you and your kids built together, they will feel more inclined to do so as well.

3. Build Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

In a world abounding with fake news, help your kids think critically about any content they find online. Encourage older kids especially to fact-check stories before reposting on Facebook or commenting on Twitter.

Teach them to question their own motives as well. Just because a comment will generate a lot of likes, that doesn’t mean they should post it. Even one poorly chosen post can cause problems down the line.

The Family Online Safety Institute has also developed a checklist that includes reminders to remove and untag unwanted posts, and to “accentuate the positive” by posting upbeat content.

4. Let Your Kids Know You Will Still Monitor Online Usage

Finally, let your kids know that you may occasionally check up on their activity. Being upfront about your plans to look at their browser history and monitor their Facebook account will establish a sense of trust and keep them accountable.

For young kids who need a bit more oversight, there are plenty of helpful apps available to let you keep an eye on them. Older kids and teens may not need (or want) as much monitoring, so for them, you may be able to check in less often. To really emphasize trust, you can even ask them to put their passwords into a piggy bank for use only in an emergency.

The internet can be a great resource for helping kids learn and be social during their school-free summer months, and following the steps listed here will help them do so smartly, responsibly, and safely.