June is Internet Safety Month. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office wants parents, teachers, and caregivers to learn how to keep their children safe while navigating the online world. As the school year comes to an end and we get ready for summer, review with children what proper online behavior looks like and decide what content they should or shouldn't engage with.
Between last year and this year, kids have been online more than ever. With so much content being created and presented to kids regularly, they must be equipped with the right tools to think critically about what they see online. While kids may know how to navigate their devices, apps, and social media, they may not possess the judgment needed to navigate the internet wisely or safely. They may see a meme, viral video, or advertisement and not be able to differentiate between what's real or fake. Even more so, they may see a viral social media challenge and may not realize that it's not appropriate or safe for them to do. Using parental controls and teaching kids about privacy and what information should never be shared online is necessary. Still, it's also equally important that kids learn to understand these risks by analyzing what they see online.
It may be difficult for kids and teens to understand that a lot of the information presented online is constructed for a specific purpose, even if it seems funny, cool, or witty. Kids and teens can start to decode what they see online by asking themselves the following questions:
- Who posted this? Is it a social media influencer?
- Is it an advertisement? Is there a product they are trying to promote? Pay close attention to content that advertises products that create habits such as vaping, dieting etc.
- Was this posted for views or to garner a following?
- Who is their target audience?
It's also essential to be able to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent content or websites. Use these tips to learn how to tell them apart:
- Look for unusual URLs or site names. Always make sure the website you're using has a security lock next to the URL.
- Check the quality of the website and content. Pay attention to grammatical errors, use of all caps, or lousy web design.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Be wary of advertisements with bold claims and no sources.
Parents play a significant role in making sure kids have safe and positive online experiences. Let this conversation be the first of many to help cultivate safe, responsible, and respectful online habits.
Visit our Internet Safety page to learn more and help your family manage their online use.