Navigating Online Safety: Teaching Kids About Internet Dangers

Discover key strategies for enhancing kids' online safety, including education on internet dangers, parental controls, and tips for secure browsing

Online safety for kids is becoming increasingly important. Unfortunately, teaching internet safety is often something that parents don’t think about. You may not realize the dangers lurking on the internet that could impact your children, or you could find yourself unsure about how to teach appropriate internet etiquette to children. As a parent, there are several things you can do to improve your child’s safety online.

Educating Children on Internet Dangers

Start by educating your child about potential dangers online, including anything they need to know to avoid those challenges.


Cyberbullying has become a serious issue for many kids and teens. An estimated 64% of young adults have faced cyberbullying at some point. Unfortunately, the presumed anonymity of a screen can increase the risk of bullying behaviors, causing young people to say things that they would not say in person. Furthermore, the ready accessibility of apps and social media platforms, as well as the high percentage of young people who have personal devices and take them everywhere they go, makes access to that bullying content more readily available. Not only do kids and teens need to be warned about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to report it when necessary, it’s important for parents to discuss what cyberbullying and harassment look like and monitor their children for signs that they may be engaging in bullying, often inadvertently.


The faceless nature of the internet not only makes it easier to ignore the conventions of polite society, it makes it easier for people to hide who they really are. Adults can masquerade as children, coaxing kids to share increasingly more information about themselves until they eventually share something that could be damaging. Furthermore, adults can groom children, encouraging them to develop a strong relationship with a person online, then encouraging them to run away, meet them in person without telling their parents, or engage in other potentially dangerous behaviors.

Sharing Personal Information

Many kids don’t think twice about sharing information online. They may assume that they’re chatting primarily with friends and same-age peers. Unfortunately, they may inadvertently end up sharing that information with someone who does not have their best interests in mind. They may share private data, including contact information or information that predators could use to find them in the real world.

Password Security

Kids, like adults, need to be aware of the many cyber threats out there, including the risk of data breaches and malware. Private devices remain at risk for a number of potential threats, including viruses that could decimate the system. Not only can that mean significant problems for kids' devices, that malware can infect the home network, leading to further challenges for the entire family.

How to Teach Kids About Internet Safety

Teaching kids about internet safety is an ongoing process that begins as soon as they get access to their first device. By maintaining control and providing your child with relevant information about the threats they may face, you can increase online safety for kids and decrease the odds that your child will be threatened.

1. Lay Ground Rules

Lay clear ground rules about what your child can and cannot do online. That may include:

  • Specific limitations on when children can use devices (for example, no using the internet after bedtime)
  • Where devices need to be located, including whether children can keep their phones in their bedrooms overnight
  • What sites children are allowed to visit without supervision
  • Parents must have access to the device and be able to check what children have shared
  • Restrictions on social media use

In addition, you may want to set clear household rules regarding online behavior. For example, your rules may govern what type of interaction your children can have with others online, including clear standards for how they should behave on social media.

2. Install Parental Controls

Parental controls act as a hard stop: a clear line that children cannot cross due to the presence of those programs on the device. They prevent children from accessing potentially dangerous sites or control when children are able to access that content. Parental controls like Child Control can also determine what time children can use their devices: for example, you might lock down phone use after bedtime, or even restrict children’s phone use after dinner so that they can wind down.

3. Discuss the Dangers With Your Kids

It’s tempting, as a parent, to protect your child from as may of the dangers out there as you possibly can. Unfortunately, those dangers are present whether your child is aware of them or not–and if they aren’t aware of the internet dangers out there, they can stumble into them without realizing they’ve strayed Online safety for kids starts with making sure they understand the challenges they may face and how they can best keep themselves safe.

4. Monitor Device Use

You walk a tightrope between allowing children the freedom and privacy to use their devices as they wish and ensuring that their usage does not pose a threat to them or others. Check your child’s devices regularly. Keep up with what they’re doing online. Open a dialogue and invite them to share social media interacts with you. By periodically checking your child’s device and going over what they have been viewing and when, as well as how they are choosing to use their devices, you can help keep them safer online. If you do notice that your child is violating your rules for online safety, make sure you institute consequences. You may need to supervise device use more closely or lay out specific consequences, including removing the device for a period of time, in order to ensure that your child maintains safety online.

5. Manage Threats Quickly

With all the dangers kids face online, it’s important to act quickly if you notice that your child has been exposed to any type of threat. How you respond to the threat may depend on the specific type of threat and its severity. For example, if you notice that your child is visiting potentially damaging websites, you may want to lock the device down more tightly: better parental controls, more website control, or less access to the device, for example. If your child is a victim of cyberbullying, you may want to report the bullying to the school and make sure that action is taken as quickly as possible. Any time you feel that your child is being groomed or stalked online, report the behavior to the police immediately.

6. Know and Manage Kids' Passwords

Ideally, you should know all passwords to your kids' devices and social media platforms. Not only does knowledge of the password enable you to check the device or platform if needed, it puts you in a better position to ensure that your child is maintaining effective internet safety. Keep in mind that a password breach may not just impact your child’s device or account, but can also impact your home network. Maintaining internet safety for kids is an ongoing process. With so many threats out there, parents must stay vigilant in order to protect their children. However, with these strategies, you can make sure your child is aware of the potential dangers and protect them from those threats.