I’ve adopted a new term I use when talking to kids about Internet Safety – Website Snakes - 1)Because I think people who prey on children are the slimiest kind of individuals – and 2) I HATE snakes. (Apologies to snake lovers and actual snakes… ) The term got a lot of giggles last week when I spoke at “Take Your Child to Work Day” at Wells Fargo Advisors. It was a great day for the kids to see what mom and dad do every day and this group of 3rd to 8th graders, participated in fun events geared just for them. From the “Wells Fargo Experience” to Hands on Banking, the kids moved from class to class engaging with professionals and staff to learn a myriad of things to better prepare them for the future.
We discussed the importance of protecting our personal information online and talked about the ways scammers try to befriend children to get them to share information without meaning to do so. Every kid in the room knew that they should never share information with strangers, but nearly half of them actually “chat” with strangers in online games because of the bond that is created by the mutual enjoyment and challenges of the game. We talked about the dangers and signs of what to look for in these “game friends” and how to keep them just that. Here are some of the other things we talked about (lively discussion – believe me):
*Pay close attention to the pictures and words you post
*Don’t divulge any personal information
*Don’t post pictures of others without their permission
*Only accept friends that you know in real life
*Don’t share passwords, except with mom and dad
*Work with mom and dad to use privacy settings
*Tell a trusted adult if something makes you feel uncomfortable
*Don’t click on links unless you know they are real, learn what to look for
*Don’t trust email from people you don’t know
*Find a balance between time spent online and real life friends and activities
*And above all, BE NICE – the web is no place to be a snake!
I love this part of my job. I think I learn as much from the kids as I teach them. I heard about all kinds of new sites to go to and even a new kind of music. I’m hoping they learned that when we as adults set limits on time and places they can go online; it is because we want the very best for them and to protect them from snakes. Have that same discussion with your kids soon.