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10 ways to keep kids safe online

Experts provide tips on keeping your kids safe

Experts provide tips on keeping your kids safe on the Internet. (Credit: iStock)

If Notre Dame superstar Manti Te Ľo could have been duped, how easy would it be for a predator to fool a teen girl on the Internet? Very easy, according to new research published in the journal "Pediatrics."

The study found 30 percent of teen girls reported meeting face-to-face with people they met online. The research shows those meetings are more likely to happen for girls who engage in high-risk behavior, such as posting racy photos, sexual chatting and sending sexual pictures to others online, said Jennie Noll, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

While this is a frightening statistic, parents can do a lot to change their child's behavior. The first step is having the somewhat difficult conversation about online dangers. Although many tweens and teens resist these discussions, Noll recommends speaking to them without accusing or shaming.


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To help get the conversation started, Nancy Friedman and Rebecca Levey, co-founders of KidzVuz.com, a safe video review and sharing site for kids ages 7-12, offers these 10 tips for keeping kids safe online:Related content

1. Inform your kids what NOT to tell. Most parents know to tell their kids not to give out personal information like their full name, address or phone number. But there are other, less obvious things that count as personal information. For example, kids shouldn't be wearing a T-shirt that says the name of their school, or the local soccer team they play on, nor should they mention those by name. They also shouldn't mention the name of their favorite mall (for older kids) or local hangout.

2. Set limits on smartphones. Treat your child's mobile device like a minicomputer. Many parents carefully set filters on home computers yet don't set any restrictions on their kids' phones.

3. Remind your kids that online rules apply whether they're on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone.

4. Teach them how to disable the geolocation device from their picture app. (You may not want to disable it completely if you use it to keep track of your child.) In addition, many carriers offer management systems online that let you limit where your child can go online on his or her phone.

5. Educate your kids how to respond if an online situation makes them uncomfortable. The reality is, this will happen, whether at a friend's house or somewhere else. At some point, your child may land on a webpage you don't want them to be on -- and they don't want to be on, either. Let them know it's OK if they see something they shouldn't, and that they should be able to come to you to talk about what they've seen. If someone approaches them online in an inappropriate way, your kids should know NOT to respond and to inform a grown up they trust.

6. Be aware of your child's online life. What apps do they have? Who are they talking to online? Awareness -- for parents and kids -- is the key to staying safe both online and off.

7. Friend and follow your child on virtual worlds and social apps.

8. Keep social apps set to private.

9. Know your child's passwords.

10. Do not allow free chat in forums of virtual worlds.

EyeGuardian For Facebook is another way parents can safely keep tabs on their kids' online habits. Created by ImageVision, the free app links to a child's Facebook account and scans messages, posts, images, friends, likes and personal identifying information for inappropriate content. Certain content is then flagged as "suspect," requiring parental or guardian approval. Parents will be alerted to things like cyberbullying, sexting, online predation, grooming, kidnapping, stalking, depression and even suicidal language that may be occurring on a child's Facebook page.

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