Sit down with your child and together come up with a list of things she should never disclose online. These include her full name, date of birth, phone number, home address and family members’ names. Explain how sexual predators and identity thieves can use this information in harmful ways.
Discuss the possible consequences of posting photos or descriptions of risky behavior. Make clear that what may seem like a fun moment to share with classmates could be viewed years later by a college admissions officer or a potential employer.
Take the time to make this list as good as it can be and one that your child is likely to agree with and use. Encourage her to post the list in a prominent location on her computer or phone to help remind her about the dangers of oversharing. You might also want to print out the list and put it on her wall.
What you can say
“Sofia, I know you’re good when you’re online. But the more you’re on social media sites, the more you may encounter people who are not so good.”
“Let’s make a list of things you should never ever share online, especially when you’re communicating with someone you’ve never met face to face. This is really, really important.”
“For example, let’s say you get a friend request from a cute-looking guy. He says he’s your age and wants to know where you go to school. You tell him. But then he shows up and turns out to be old and creepy. You don’t want him anywhere near you!”
“That’s why you should always be careful about what information you give out online. And you should never assume that the information someone is giving you is accurate.”
Why this will help
Talking with your child and setting up clear rules can help her make good decisions online. It may also help to bring up news stories about online predators and the dangers of giving out too much information. The more your child understands about the not-so-good things she may encounter out on the web, the wiser she’ll become about using social media.
Explore ways to protect your child from online predators.