Looking for tips on protecting children and teens from being exposed to pornography, violent content, or adults who target young people?
There are a bunch of ways to help kids and teens build skills to navigate the online world more safely and effectively. This section has ideas about how to do this so you can support, protect, and educate the kids and teens in your life. Topics include sexting and sextortion, pornography, violent content, and hate groups that attempt to recruit young people through games and other online connections. This information changes quickly with new technology, so we have links to online resources that update their information frequently with the latest trends!
General Online Safety Tips and Info
Internet Matters is a site based in the United Kingdom that has well-researched, positive information on a variety of internet safety issues. They focus on educating parents and other adults so they can talk with kids in order to:
– Encourage them to behave safely online
– Help them identify potential risks
– Help limit the risks they may face online
– Know what to do and where to go if they need help.
Heads Up: Stop, Think, Connect is a pamphlet created by the United State Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on online safety and digital citizenship. You can view it online or it can be downloaded and printed.
From the FTC, September, 2016
Tips from a doctor on internet safety for parents and caregivers who want to protect, support, and inform kids and teens. This page has basic information and it’s a good place to start. It includes a few resources and tips for talking with kids.
From KidsHealth, last reviewed April, 2018.
Pornography and Sexting
Internet Matters guide to talking with kids and teens about pornography.
We like this site because it encouraging talking in a way that strengthens relationship, is not fear-based but takes the issue seriously, and has info on:
– Starting a conversation about relationships, sex and pornography
– How to talk about online pornography with your child
– What to talk to them about based on their age
– Managing what they see online with parental controls
Info is in text and video form. Here is one of their videos (about 2 minutes long), about how to talk with 11 – 13 year-olds about online pornography.
From Internet Matters, 2019
Research Shows Early Parent-Child Talks on Pornography Effective (January, 2015)
This article is a pretty quick read and makes the case for talking with kids in middle and high school, because research cited in the article showed that kids of parents who talked with them about porn (in a helpful way) use less pornography in college. It also briefly discusses that sexual partners of people who use pornograghy frequently have lower self-esteem, so less porn use benefits those partners as well.
From Texas Tech University, by George Watson
Protect Young Eyes
An organization and website dedicated to helping families, schools, and churches create safer digital environments. They have info on the latest apps and other online trends, do their own research (shared on the website), and provide other educational resources.
Note: Protect Young Eyes is a faith-based organization and its values and messaging reflect the religious beliefs of the staff, but staff in non-religious organizations have shared with the coalition that they find much of the information relatable and useful.
5 Ways to Block Porn on Your Kid’s Devices
In general, research shows it is more effective to talk about pornography than to just try to block it, because it’s so easy for most kids to find ways around blocks and it’s important to teach skills and values. However, many parents do both and find that to be the most effective! These blocking tips from Common Sense Media are a good place to start.
Alternative Pitched For Teens Who Share Explicit Images (December, 2019)
Did you know that teens who send nudes of other teens under 18 can be charged with child pornography distribution or possession? Sexting, sending sexually explicit photos or videos, is an issue that affects many middle and high school students. About 1 in 7 teens are sexting, according to a 2018 review of 39 research studies in JAMA Pediatrics. This article describes a diversion program, a new alternative response that attempts to address the issue of sexting in a more age-appropriate way than charging teens with child pornography.
From WGBH News, by Katie Lannon, State House News Service
Hate Groups that Target Young People
Right-Wing Hate Groups Are Recruiting Video Gamers (November, 2018)
NPR article and 4 minute radio story about exactly what the title says. Important reading for parents and other adults who care about kids and teens who play online games.
From NPR, by Anya Kamenetz
How One Mom Talks To Her Sons About Hate On The Internet (August, 2019)
NPR article and 6 minute radio story about how one mother realized that her children were being exposed to propaganda from hate groups and a bit about how she talks with them. More of an intro to the topic than much about what to do but does highlight the importance of talking with kids about this issue.
From NPR, by Scott Simon and Emma Bowman
4 Steps to Help Kids Push Back Against White Nationalism
4 steps (tips of what parents and other adults can do), resources, and links to download an action guide on confronting white nationalism in English and Spanish.
From embracerace, by Nora Flanagan and Christian Piccolini
What is Sextortion?
Info and resources from Thorn, an organization that works to combat internet-based child sexual abuse and trafficking. They also do research on the issues that they work on.
This brief video from Thorn is a good fit for young people as well as adults and explains the basics of sextortion.
Overview of Sextortion from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children