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Teach Your Kids Internet Safety: Tips for Keeping Them Safe Online


Let’s talk about internet safety for kids, as we get a few questions about it in my free Facebook sex education group for parents, that parent group.

And even though internet safety for children isn’t really a part of sex education, it is still very relevant. Children will be exposed to sexually explicit images, may send nude pictures of themselves or receive them from others, will have romantic relationships online (including online sex), will use social media, and search for information about sex (and bodies) online. They’ll also be bombarded with lots of unwanted sexualised messages from the media, their peers and society in general.

When left unchecked, all of these things will have an impact on your child’s sexual development (in a negative way).


If you want your child to stay on the path of healthy sexual development, then you need to be talking to them.

So this blog post is designed to help you get started with empowering your child to stay safe when online. I’ll also share some of my favourite online safety resources with you, as they allow you to spend more time talking (and less searching).

Let’s get started!

mother talking with her two children about online safety as they play on cell phones
Conversations about online safety need to start early.

Create family rules

The easiest way to get started with internet safety (other than reading children’s books) is by creating family rules. Family rules about the internet will provide your child with clear guidelines on what they can and can’t do when online.

And the earlier you start implementing family rules, the easier it is to enforce them.

My Internet Safety Rules! Poster Set will help protect your children by instilling basic rules to save them from making common mistakes.  They’re basic guidelines about interacting with people (only those we already know), taking pictures (after asking permission), and trying new apps or games (only after checking with you first). Put up one poster or more, familiarise yourself with the rules, and regularly remind your children about them. They’ll become engrained throughout the family and offer valuable protection around the kids while they’re safely exploring the digital world.

The secret to teaching internet safety to kids

Regardless of how many conversations you start, the books you read and the videos you watch… it’ll never be enough. You can never have complete control over the internet to ensure 100% safety for your children, regardless of age.

But it doesn’t matter, as what truly matters is that you build a strong, trusting relationship with your children around their use of the internet. It’s about creating an environment where they feel comfortable turning to you when things go wrong online. Whether they stumble upon something scary in a video or someone sends them a message with a link to online porn, you want them to know that they can turn to you for support.

So instead of responding with anger or threatening to take away their technology, I’m encouraging you to approach these situations differently. Listen to your child and thank them for telling you. Work together with them to find a solution and revisit your family rules.

This will help your child understand that you are always here for them whenever they face any challenges online.

Internet safety tips

Here are some of my favourite internet safety tips for families.

Ask before going online or downloading new apps or games.

Encourage your child to ask before going online or before using a device, before downloading a new app, before signing up for a new game, and before clicking on popups and sidebar advertisements. Common Sense Media is an invaluable resource for checking if they are age-appropriate (or not).

Only talk to people you know.

When using social media or online messaging, make your profile private and only add your friends in real life. Remind them to talk to you before chatting with people they don’t know.

Don’t give out personal information about yourself.

Don’t share personal stuff online, like your full name, address or phone number. Someone could try to use this information to find you. Help them to choose a fun nickname instead.

Think carefully before you press send.

You can get in trouble with the Police if you send photos of yourself or other people without clothes on. You can also get in trouble if you bully someone or talk about hurting them. Almost everything you share online ends up on public access, whether you want it to (or not).

Watch what you buy online.

Some things on the internet need money, like playing games or shopping. Always ask parents before spending money online.

No taking pictures of private body parts.

Don’t take photos of private body parts (or let someone take photos of yours). Start to talk about selfies and appropriate photos. Get into the habit of always asking if that is a photo/picture they would show a grandparent(or school teacher).

Talk to an adult if you feel worried.

Some things on the internet might make us feel scared or confused. Always talk to a parent or an adult you trust if you are worried about something online.

Devices in public spaces.

Avoid letting kids view the Internet in isolated places. You should always be able to walk past and casually see what they are up to.

Devices at other homes.

Help your child understand that they must be cautious when using a device or online in someone else’s home. Discuss what should happen when at a friend’s house and what they could do in risky situations.

Social media.

Social media is an everyday part of life for tweens and teens. It is how they connect with people they may (or may not) know in the real world. Younger kids usually start using social media to play online games before graduating onto platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, Tik Tok and Facebook.

Social media can be enjoyable and beneficial for your kids. It can help them to connect with family and friends, expand their social circle, allow them to share their creativity through music and art, help them to explore different ideas, assist in helping them to develop and express their unique identity and provide them with opportunities to learn new things with others.

Some of the common risks on social media include access to inappropriate content (such as pornography), sexting and image-based abuse (also known as revenge porn), having their personal information shared, accidentally downloading viruses or malware, being groomed online, being catfished, being embarrassed, harassed or attacked on social media.

Here are some ideas on what you could talk about with your child:

  • Provide a clear expectation about their online behaviour.
  • Use strong passwords and update them regularly.
  • Encourage them not to share passwords with friends.
  • Teach them about the consequences of sharing something online.
  • Discuss that people most often post what they want others to think is happening in their life. Other people’s “highlight reel” may make them feel inadequate and rejected.
  • Encourage them to connect only with people they know offline.
  • Keep identifying information to a minimum eg do not reveal their location.
  • Encourage them to talk with a trusted adult about online issues.
  • Change privacy settings so only friends and family can view their profiles and posts.
  • Be aware of what your child is doing online and who they talk with.

Mobile phones.

Kids need to be taught how to use their phones responsibly. Don’t forget to role model responsible use. Kids learn more by what you do than what you say!

Responsible mobile phone use is about sticking to family rules about phone use, managing costs by keeping track of call, text and data usage, keeping the phone charged and safe and not losing or damaging it, and being safe and respectful in calls, texts and social media posts.

Possible rules to consider for mobile phone use could include all phones to be switched off or not used during family meals, phones to stay out of bedrooms after a time you agree on, phones and other devices are charged in a family area overnight (not bedrooms), mobile phones are put down when you’re talking face to face with each other. Some families will create a family agreement that both the parent and child will sign.

Here are some other things you can do as a parent. You can be a good role model and set an example of how you expect them to behave. Be intentional about how and when you view the various forms of media in your home. View media together as a family instead of individually in isolated areas around your home. Be aware that frequent media exposure does affect child
development and relational perceptions, especially in young children. Limit usage time to recommended time limits. And set up media free zones in your home.

Ongoing conversations.

Internet safety is an ongoing conversation that you will keep on revisiting. Which means that you will talk about what’s relevant and keep reminding your child of the basics.

Online Safety Contract.

Some parents like to sign a written contract with their child and to place it in a visible location as a reminder. You can create your own or find one online. You will find two online agreements inside my Internet Safety Rules! Poster Set, one for 3 to 6 year olds, and another for 6 to 12 year old children.

An online safety contract is a good reminder of what to talk about. Find one online, print it out and stick it on the fridge. Set yourself a goal to talk about at least one thing each week (tick them off as work your way through the list).

Internet safety books for kids.

Books can be a great way to start and continue the conversation. Some books are more general whereas others are specific and focus on just one aspect of the conversation.

Try to read one internet safety book with your child at least once a week. I used to let my kids pick one book, and then I would pick a book. Which meant it was easy to slip in an ‘educational’ books without them complaining. Don’t forget to also see what is available at your local library.

Videos for kids.

Videos can be a great way to start and continue the conversation. What kid doesn’t like the opportunity to watch a video! So take advantage of this and use it as an opportunity to teach.

AMAZE org has fun animated videos about sex, bodies and relationships. They also have videos about internet safety.

Don’t forget to also look at my collection of sex education videos. There are some cyber safety videos in there.

Also look on YouTube as there are quite a few internet safety, online safety and cyber safety videos there for children and teens.

two young boys playing on the internet safely as they have been taught cybersafety
An internet safety tip! Devices can only be used in public spaces and never bedrooms.

Parental controls

Parental controls are software tools that allow you to monitor and limit what your child sees and does online. They allow you to block your child from accessing specific websites, apps or functions, filter out content (like porn or violence), monitor what your child does online, and set limits as to when your child can access the internet and for how long.

Parental controls can be helpful but can also place your child at greater risk. I have lost count of how many parents I have seen set up parental controls, believe their child is safe, not talk about internet safety and then turn to me in a panic on realising their child has been exposed to porn.

Please don’t make the same mistake other parents make! And do read my blog post about parental control software, as it is full of helpful tips. I have also reviewed the two parental control tools I used at home: BARK and Qustodio.

I also have a Tech Check Workbook (for parents) that will help you do a step-by-step check on every device in your house. It is designed to reduce any overwhelm you may feel about this task!

Internet safety resources for children

Kids Helpline have some resources for kids aged 5 to 12 years about being safe on the internet, online gaming: is this bullying?, cyberbullying, knowing who to trust online, seeing scary stuff in the news, and more!

Kids Helpline have some resources for teens aged 13 to 17 years about staying safe online, cyberbullying, online harassment, online gaming, and more!

eSafetykids is a website with information for 5 to 12 year old children about internet safety.

eSafetyyoung people have useful information to help teens stay safe online.

Internet safety resources for parents

Common Sense is a fantastic resource that wants to make the digital world safer for kids and families. Common Sense Media is their parent resource, where they review the latest movies, TV shows, books, games, podcasts, apps, and YouTube, as well as provide parent tips and an extensive selection of FAQs.

eSafety has advice for parents and carers to help kids stay safe online. There are too many resources here to mention, and it is an invaluable internet safety resource!

raisingchildren.net.au has internet safety resources for parents sorted into the different age groups of children aged 2-5 years, for preschoolers, for school age children, for pre-teens, and teens. These lists are extensive and include cyberbullying, media literacy, social media, screen time, gaming and more!

Resources to help parents to talk about online porn

Pornography is a conversation that all parents should have with their children.

I have a blog post that will show you how to talk about porn with kids and teens as well as a quiz to help you work out if your child is at risk from porn. You’ll find more resources on my Pornography 101 page.

My See porn, act fast! Poster Set will help you to teach your child what to do when they stumble upon things that make them feel unsafe, as well as online porn.

If you need some help with talking to your child about online porn, then have a look at my porn talk course. It is designed to help you to empower your children to make smart decisions about pornography.

If your child has already been exposed to online pornography, then you will want my parent masterclass Help! My child has seen porn!


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