Helping K-12 students be safe, smart and responsible users of online technology is important to their well-being. Below are resources for parents and guardians. We hope this information will help you guide your students in developing safe, smart and responsible internet use habits.
We encourage you to follow these 10 basic guidelines to help keep your children safe on the Internet.
- Keep all Internet access in a public place, including cellphones. Do not allow students to charge devices in their bedrooms.
- Make, sign, review and display an Internet Use Contract with your children to ensure that they understand the rules.
- Talk to your children regularly about where they are going online. Have them show you. Don’t be afraid to learn from them. Remember, you are the expert in making good decisions.
- Remember: We all learn through practice. Taking away computer privileges for long periods of time can encourage students to use the Internet when you’re not watching and not tell you when something is wrong. Keep the lines of communication open between you and your children.
- Know your child’s usernames and passwords. Make it clear that online social networks are not private. You need to know who their friends are and make sure they are building healthy relationships.
- Model responsible use and regularly review the rules with your student.
- Talk to your student about privacy and permanence. Google their name with them regularly and talk about their digital footprint.
- Recommend positive ways to create a better digital footprint.
- Talk to your student about being a good online citizen. Remember: What is good offline is good online.
- Read Dr. Smock’s article “Why I’m putting down the iPhone“.
- Common Sense Media
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: NetSmartz
- ParentFurther, A Search Institute Resource for Families
- PBS: Parenting in the Digital Age
- PBS: Raising Internet Savvy Kids
- Simple K-12
- Talking to Children About Digital Safety (English)
- Talking to Children About Digital Safety (Spanish)
- Wired Safety
- Wi-Fi and Internet Safety
Tips & Resources by Topic
Talk to your children regularly about Internet use and access. Clearly explain your expectations for of them for appropriate use and behavior. The following resources may help.
Learning how to manage multiple sources of information and potential distractions is a critical life skill, one best learned before heading off to college or the workplace. Help your student follow these general rules.
- Balance sedentary screen time with physical activity.
- Break up screen time into small increments.
- Use technology creatively, not passively. Exmp: making a video -vs- watching a cartoon
It is important for students to understand that information that is on the Internet never really goes away. These resources can help you demonstrate that fact and teach your children how to protect their privacy online.
- Common Sense Media: Online Privacy: What it is and How to Get It
- Google Alerts
If you set up a Google Alert for members of your family, you will receive emails with information that appears about you online.
- How Stuff Works: Top Ten Things You Should Not Share On Social Networks
- The WayBack Machine
See what the web looked like at any time since it began. Deleting content from the web doesn’t really make it go away.
There are several tools to help you monitor your student’s activity online, help you set age-appropriate rules and promote conversations about safe online behaviors.
Software for Purchase
- DNS Parental Control Solutions
- Kids Watch Parental Control Software
- Norton Online Family Parental Control Software
Apps for Purchase
Twenty-seven percent of 12- to 17-year olds choose to game with people they first meet online. Be sure to monitor your student’s gaming habits. Here are 10 handy tips from NetSmartz Kidz.
- View game ratings and prescreen games online before purchasing.
- Check to be sure the console comes with parental control features.
- Set parental controls before children start playing. (Consult the user guide.)
- Set up consoles in a common area for easy supervision.
- Decide if you want to use the console’s Internet capabilities.
- Set gaming rules with your children, such as how long and with whom they can play.
- Choose gender-neutral, appropriate screen names.
- Decide if you want to allow voice chat. If you do, use voice masking features.
- Teach your children not to reveal personal information through voice chat.
- Encourage your children not to respond to cyberbullies and to block unwanted contact.
Student’s social network options and preferences are continually evolving and changing.
The National Council on Cyberbullying provides the following recommendations.
- Keep your password safe! You can tell your parents about it, but not anyone else — not even your best friend!
- Don’t share secrets, photos, or anything online that might be embarrassing if someone found out.
- Set up email and instant messenger accounts with your parents. Make sure not to put your name, age, address, or phone number in your profile or screen name.
- Don’t send messages when you’re angry. Wait until you cool off so you don’t say something you’ll regret.
- Let bullies know that cyberbullying is not ok. If your friends are cyberbullying, tell them that it’s not funny and that cyberbullying hurts people.
- Be as nice online as you are offline.
If a cyberbully is bothering you:
- Don’t respond to emails or messages that are mean to you or your friends.
- Don’t forward emails or messages that are mean or that spread rumors about other people.
- Don’t open emails or messages from someone you know is a bully.
- Block anyone who acts like a cyberbully.
- Save or print all messages from bullies.
- Show the messages to an adult you trust—like a parent or a teacher—and ask for help. If the first adult you tell doesn’t help you, keep telling until someone does.