Cell Phone and Internet Safety Rules for Kids

Reagan Fausett
Kids sitting outside as a group looking at cell phones. Cell phone and internet safety rules for kids.

As a parent, the most important thing is your child’s safety. When we think of safety, we usually think of teaching our kids to look both ways and hold our hands when crossing the street. But in today’s world, safety encompasses much more than watching for cars. Teaching your children how to be safe on cell phones and the Internet is just as important as teaching them how to cross a street. Without these internet safety rules, your child could become a victim to anything from scammers to online predators. 

Internet Safety Rules for Kids

Don’t wait to teach your children Internet and cell phone safety. Just like any other rule, teach your kids basic Internet safety rules while they’re young so online safety becomes second nature to them. 
If you’re not sure how to start teaching your children how to use the Internet safely and responsibly, take a look at these 10 Troomi Tips to help get you on the right track:

Don’t Overshare

Oversharing in real life probably won’t win you a lot of friends, but oversharing online can have even worse results. Teach your kids to avoid sharing personal information of any kind through technology, whether it be through texting or social media. Personal information not only includes any personal identifiers or bank info, but also any photos or posts that might clue someone in on where your child lives or attends school. For example, your child might be tempted to post a picture that was taken at a park across the street from their house. With enough of these kinds of clues, it isn’t hard for an online predator to figure out where a child lives.

Make Sure the Sites You Visit Are Legit

There are countless sites out there that pose as something they’re not. Teach your child to do their research before buying from or sharing info through a website to make sure it’s legitimate. Always watch out for signs that a website might be fake like typos or http:// instead of https:// at the beginning of the website address (the s means that the website is secure). Be sure to only pay through secured methods as well—avoid sites that don’t offer third party payment options like Paypal. Yep—that means think twice before clicking on the “huge sale” ad that keeps popping up on your Instagram. Or learn the hard way and wind up $50 in the hole with only a pair of poorly fitted, fake Chacos to show for it (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. . .). 

Don’t Accept Solicitations From Strangers

Teach your kids how to use the internet safely and responsibly by helping them understand that the Internet is just as dangerous as the real world. Just because they can’t physically see the person doesn’t mean stranger danger shouldn’t apply online. To your child it might seem harmless to have an unknown person see what they post, but if your child shares any personal info, even without realizing it, that information is now in the hands of a stranger who might not have good intentions. When it comes to internet safety rules, teach your child to be careful about who they allow to “friend” or “follow” them online. Encourage them to go through their friends and followers and eliminate anyone they don’t know personally. Teach them to always be careful about who they accept “friend” or “follow” requests from.

If Grandma Shouldn’t See it, Don’t Post it

One of the most important Internet safety rules is being careful about what you share. Once your child shares something through text, email, or social media, there’s no taking it back. Teach them to think twice about posting something they might regret. Junior high and high school are hard enough as is, but those years can be especially tough if a cyberbully gets ahold of an embarrassing photo of your child. This is important to remember as a parent as well—make sure what you post about your children isn’t something that might hurt or embarrass them in the future. 

A simple rule to teach your kids is to avoid sharing anything that might embarrass them if grandma saw it. That includes sending sexually explicit photos or messages—even to someone they trust. There is no knowing if the things shared in confidence might be shared again with others. This can result in shame, embarrassment, and harassment. So, before the next time your child shares something, whether it be through text or the Internet, teach them to make sure it isn’t something that could come back and haunt them later.

Don’t Be Click-Happy

Click bait is one of the most prevalent scams on the Internet, and though we usually know to avoid it, there are still some links that arouse our curiosity. Teach your child to be careful about what they click on, whether it be ads, downloads, or external links. If there is a link they suspect could be legit, teach them to do some research on it before they click. You might save yourself from some nasty malware if your child takes those necessary couple seconds to check things out. Teach them to always be wary of sale ads even from what looks like a familiar company—there are plenty of imposters out there. 

Check Your Privacy Settings

You don’t just leave your door wide open at night, so why would you leave your information open to the public? Make sure your child’s privacy settings are secure to prevent strangers from seeing their personal information. This is one of the most crucial Internet rules for kids. It might seem harmless to allow others to view everything on your social profiles, but you never know what someone’s intentions might be. Without the appropriate security, your child’s profile could fall into the hands of hackers or even online predators.

Use an Ad Blocker

Let’s be honest—one of the best parts of the superbowl is the ads. I mean, who doesn’t love the Old Spice guy? Unfortunately not all ads have good intentions. Many ads out there can even compromise your security. To help protect against security risks, Get an ad blocker to help simplify life. Many ad blockers are free extensions you can add to your browser and pause ads on any website. Having an ad blocker helps protect your computer against malicious ads that carry viruses and malware. Ad blockers can also help protect your children from exposure to any inappropriate content  in pop-up ads.

Make Sure Your Connection is Private

Unfortunately free Wi-Fi isn’t always as good as it sounds. In fact, it could undermine cell phone safety. Many free networks might be unprotected and thus make your personal information susceptible to hackers and scammers. Your child might be tempted to bypass that little warning dialogue box their device shows before connecting to an unsecured network, but teach them to think twice before they do—checking Instagram for a few minutes isn’t worth risking their information security. 

Use Antivirus Software

Even through your constant vigilance, malware and viruses can slip through and infect your device. Make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus software to help protect your info. Antivirus software can alert you when there are tracking cookies and other privacy threats on your device. They can also prevent your child from visiting unreliable websites that might contain malware and viruses.

Trust Your Gut

One of the best internet safety rules to teach your children is trusting their first instincts. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. We all love deals and freebies, but unfortunately ads try to take advantage of that. Just the other day an ad on Instagram popped up offering me a free birthday gift if I clicked on their link (how thoughtful!). Though I was tempted, I decided to check out the company only to discover that the gift was a not-so-free scam—just what I always wanted! So, help your children avoid scams and other Internet dangers by teaching them to be skeptical of anything “free” or any unreasonably large discount. If they stop to do some research before they click on something, they might find out that it’s not as legit as they first thought.  

Safe Apps for Kids

Along with teaching your kids how to use the internet safely and responsibly, give them resources they can use safely. Help them find safe apps for kids that promote creativity, education, and healthy screen habits. Teach your child to practice cell phone safety, part of which is making sure the apps they download are safe, kid appropriate, and follow internet safety rules. 

Keeping Kids Safe Online

Just like you teach your kids to be safe in the real world, teach them to be safe online. Though the threats they face on the Internet and their cell phones aren’t as apparent, your kids need the skills to recognize a dangerous situation when they come across one. 

In today’s world, your child faces a lot of dangers, but equipped with the right skills and resources, you won’t need to worry about their safety. If you’re interested in learning about other resources to help keep your children safe online, check out Troomi. Troomi’s military-grade security and OS-level software smartphones will help keep your child safer than ever before. As you teach your child to follow Internet and cell phone safety rules and give them safe tools, they will be able to keep themselves safe online even when you aren’t there to protect them. 

And if anyone can get me a legitimate deal on some real Chacos, I’d be forever grateful!