Online Safety Starts at Home


    Parents and caregivers, as someone who works in the area of child sexual abuse prevention, I beg you to take these statistics to heart:

    1 in 5 youth experience unwanted online exposure to sexually explicit material (Madigan et al., 2018). 1 in 9 youth experience online sexual exploitation (Madigan et al., 2018). 1 out of 4 minors experiences online sexual grooming via long, intimate conversations in online chatrooms (Greene -Colozzzi et al., 2020). Now, I want you to think about what you can do to protect the children in your life. The internet and the need for an online presence, is not going anywhere. BUT – you can make things safer.

    Here are ten tips to help keep your children safe online.

    1. Move computers and gaming devices out of bedrooms and into common areas of your home.

    2. Set reasonable time limits on all devices.

    3. Limit the use of social media until it age appropriate, at least by what the social media company is indicating but more importantly what you as a parent or caregiver deem as age appropriate.

    4. Insist that children are not using headphones. Know what is being said and if a chat is being used, then make sure it is visible so that you are able to see what is being written and communicated.

    5. Have open conversations about the need for internet safety. Talk about the dangers and risks and be willing to listen to their thoughts, too (especially your teens).

    6. Have them show you the apps and games they are using and playing. Being interested can go a long way.

    7. Use your name and contact information when signing up for apps and games.

    8. Enable location features and other parental controls. Be sure your children know about these and that they are a way to keep them safe.

    9. If someone is making them feel uncomfortable, they can block them or report uncomfortable activity at CyberTipline (

    10. Look for more resources at or Remember, these are ongoing conversations that change as our children grow and as technology advances. Being honest and open can help ensure your child will come to you if something seems wrong to them or if they have questions.

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    Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


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