cyber-bullying

The terrifying things your kids don't get about status updates

Aug. 5, 2013 at 3:11 PM ET

Viral Video: Internet Safety for Kids
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Viral Video: Internet Safety for Kids

In today's helicopter- and snowplow-parenting world, we wouldn't dream of letting our kids walk to school unchaperoned, we practically tether them to our sides at the shopping mall and some of us even give our kids temporary tattoos with vital info in fear of becoming separated while traveling.

But when it comes to online safety, are we as being as safe as we should be?

A video from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the U.K., launched in 2009, is making the Facebook rounds again.

Titled, "Kids don’t share too much online!," it has 90,000 shares, and likens posting an online profile to placing a giant sign in your front yard announcing your presence to the creepers, predators and bullies of the world. (Starring a particularly cringe-worthy character named Simon.)

The video includes an interviewer asking adorable British school children questions that drive home how kids often don't take the same safety precautions online that they know to do in the real world.

  • Would you leave your front door wide open? ("That's a silly question.")
  • Would you post a picture of yourself in a public place for all the world to see? ("I'd never do it.")
  • Would you tell any old person where you lived? ("No way.")
  • Would you speak to someone you never met like they were your best friend? ("No.")
  • Would you let a stranger take a copy of all your personal photos? ("No, that’s so silly.")
  • Would you let just anyone look through your personal things? (“No way.”)

Do you use the Internet to talk to your friends? Do you have your own personal profile online? Do you have people on it as your friends that you don’t know? Do you have pictures on your profile that you wouldn’t want your parents to see? Can anyone see or change those photos? Is it possible for someone to find where you live or where you go to school? Are you more careful about your safety in the real world than in the online world? Is it time you changed? Yes, yes, yes—all yes.

With two elementary school-aged daughters who continually plead for their own computers, I sat them down to watch the online safety video.

“That can really happen to you in real life,” my older daughter said after watching. “There are bad people out there who will try to take advantage of someone a lot younger than them and try to get to their secret stuff. But it’s also bad because your parents don’t know what has been happening.”

So, especially today, when kids who aren’t even in school yet seem to know how to navigate a smartphone, iPad or laptop, what's a parent to do? NBC Universal’s new ebook, Growing Up Online, offers tips and advice on tracking the online activities of your children, setting up parental controls and more.

I know I'll be checking out the book, because it's not just our kids who could learn a few things when it comes to online safety. As my wise child said, “You can’t just let people see anything, because some of those things might be personal.” Good advice at any age.

Lesley Kennedy writes for ShopAtHome.com's Online Shopping Report. Find her on Twitter @denveralamode and Google +.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.


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