While on a break from school, youth could choose to spend more time online. Although they might have more free time to surf the web during the summer, internet safety is a year-round priority. And the Boy Scouts of America has resources to help you have discussions with your youth on this topic.
The BSA partnered with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation to deliver the Protect Yourself Rules for elementary school-aged kids along with the Protect Yourself Series for teenagers. This, along with the pamphlet How to Protect Your Child From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide, is designed to inform parents and children on ways to stay safe.
Along with these resources, the BSA has put together these tips:
- Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before they engage in online activity. Establish clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags and encourage children to have open communication with you.
- Supervise young children’s use of the internet, including periodically checking their profiles and posts. Keep electronic devices in open, common areas of the home and consider setting time limits for their use.
- One-on-one contact between an adult leader and youth is not allowed in person, online, through a web conference, over the phone, via text or in any other form.
- Review games, apps and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay particular attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messaging, video chats, file uploads and user anonymity, which are frequently relied upon by online child predators.
- Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social media sites and electronic devices.
- Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos and videos online in public forums or with people they do not know in real life. Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the internet.
- Teach children about body safety and boundaries, including the importance of saying “no” to inappropriate requests, both in the physical world and the virtual world.
- Be alert to potential signs of abuse, including changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety and depression.
- Encourage children to tell a parent, guardian or other trusted adult if anyone asks them to engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior.
- Immediately report suspected online enticement or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911, contacting the FBI at fbi.gov, or filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org.