If you haven’t had a conversation with your middle schooler about online safety, it’s not too late. There are some basic Internet safety tips you can easily and clearly teach to get the message across that, although this resource is an amazing tool, the Internet is also a place where privacy is breached, predators seek out their victims, identities are stolen, and lives can be ruined. Talk to your child about these issues using real-life examples of online predators and cyberbullying. Discuss how and what your child uses the Internet for, what types of platforms they’re on, their online reputation, and if they’ve ever felt unsafe or identified unsafe situations while online.
It’s important to remember junior high school students are still children, and their brains haven’t yet fully developed to be able to think before they click.
Signs & Behaviors
Identifies safe online behavior
Develops a system of positive digital citizenship
Shares their use with you and tells you if something happened that made them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or hurt
Develops a plan of how to avoid sharing personal information
Recognizes online scams and predatory grooming behaviors
Knows the dangers of engaging with unknown people online
Shows you anything dangerous they see or stumble upon
Doesn’t respond to online threats
Doesn’t send pictures of themselves to unknown people
Doesn’t send naked or inappropriate pictures to anyone (even people they think they know)
Doesn’t respond to unsolicited emails, texts, chats or messages
What you can do
Teach them how to verify someone’s identity
Make sure they understand how to identify a safe link
Tell them not to click on pop-ups that ask for their information
Don’t open emails from unknown users or click on links in messages from unknown senders
Talk to them about online grooming behaviors
Teach them what sextortion and sexploitation mean
Teach them how to identify an online scam
Emphasize the need to protect personal information
Create passwords and share them with trusted adults only
Teach them how to identify cyberbullying and not participate in it (and how to do something positive to counteract it)
Teach them to protect their online reputation and presence
Talk to them about their permanent digital thumbprint
“What are the risks of being online? What are the benefits?”
“How do you really know who you’re talking to when you’re on the Internet?”
“What are signs that you’re being exposed to something potentially dangerous online?”
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