Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Watch out for false information.

What you can do

Remind your child that the information people post online may not be true. This applies to everything from the details in a user profile to an entire article or even a whole website. Discuss how to research whether something online, such as a charity, is real or a scam.

Talk about offers that appear to be too good to be true, such as the promise of free electronics in exchange for filling in some personal information. Discuss computer viruses. Explain why it’s important not to download anything from a suspicious site or email.

Give your child gentle but frequent reminders that she should never provide personal information about herself or others. Encourage her to develop a healthy wariness about the people and information she encounters on the Internet.

What you can say

“Sofia, that was an awesome website you showed me about Rome during Emperor Nero’s reign. It had so much good information that you can use for your project. It also seemed to offer you lots of options to go off to other sites. But some of those sites didn’t look too accurate.”

“For example, there was that one link about a ‘deadly snow snake.’ It took you to another site about a white snake that killed several people this winter by making their blood freeze. I agree that looked really interesting. But something like that would be big news. We’d hear about it in the newspaper or on the radio.”

“Whenever I’m not sure about something I see online, I check if it’s true by looking it up on a site I trust. That snow-snake story simply isn’t true. I’m glad we figured that out before you told your friends about it at school.”

“Always feel free to run anything by me if you’re not sure about it. I can help you find reputable sites and keep you safe from scammers.”

Why this will help

Learning that information online isn’t always truthful or helpful will benefit your child for the rest of her life. Showing her how to research the validity of a certain story or email will set a good example of how to approach the Internet in general.

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