• October 2021
  • Vol. 22, No. 9

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Protecting Children Online: Tips for Caregivers

A blog post from AdoptUSKids discusses why spending time on the internet can be a dangerous pastime for children, particularly those in foster care; the associated risks; and considerations and strategies for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe online.

Excessive online screen time, a problem compounded by COVID-19, can threaten personal safety; lead to deteriorating mental health, including feelings of social isolation, depression, and low self-esteem; and open the door to unauthorized or unhealthy connections with their birth family and others.

The following tips are some of the ways parents can limit screen time and mitigate safety concerns:

  • Focus on prevention. Begin conversations about appropriate internet usage when children are young, before they get online.
  • Discuss "netiquette" with your child. Talk with them about what information is safe and not safe to share online and appropriate ways to communicate with trusted friends and adults.
  • Model healthy relationships with technology. Establish agreed-upon rules that apply to everyone—such as no phones in private areas (e.g., bathrooms)—and, if appropriate, include the child's birth family to encourage shared understanding.
  • Use parental controls. A variety of tools exist that allow parents to monitor internet usage and content and track children's online activities and location. However, do not spy on your child; instead, involve them as partners in their online safety.
Finally, a collection of helpful resources, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and its Netsmartz online safety education program, is provided for interested readers.
To learn more, read the post, "Keeping Children You Foster and Adopt Safe Online."

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