Federal Trade Comission: Consumer Education Blog

August 30, 2013
by Aditi Jhaveri
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

Back to School Smarts

With your kids heading back to school, you might be hoping they spend more time with their noses in a textbook than with their eyes glued to a screen. And since you know they’ll be spending time online — socializing, sharing photos, and downloading apps — take the opportunity to talk about being tech smart as well as book smart!

The good news is you don’t have to be a tech expert to talk to your kids about being safe online. Whether they’re using a smartphone, a laptop, or a tablet, the conversation is about your expectations when they’re online.

Here are some ways to start those conversations:

  • Take a look at settings on your kids’ devices. Parental controls are an option with younger kids. You may be able to restrict content to what’s right for your kid’s age, and set a password so they can’t download apps or spend money without it. Talk to your kids about the restrictions you set and why.
  • Keep up with kids’ apps by trying them out yourself.Before downloading, look at screen shots, read the description, content rating and any user reviews, and do some research on the developer.
  • Tell kids to be cautious about “free” stuff. Free games, apps, music, ring tones, or other downloads can hide viruses. You might also tell your kids not to get their hopes up if they get a text promising a free gift. It’s most likely text message spam that they shouldn’t respond to. BTW, they shouldn’t click on any links within the message, either. Doing that could install nasty viruses.
  • Remind kids that online actions have consequences. Once they post something online, they can’t take it back. Have a conversation about what information is private — and that it should stay that way.

Want your kids to learn more about online safety for themselves? Get a smart start to the school year by sharing our Living Life Online page — written just for kids.

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To see a helpful video, click on http://bcove.me/g3w82gc5