Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Tips on Keeping Your Child Cyber Safe

12/09/2016 | Published by: Ailene Koffer

As a mom of two young adults, I never thought Internet safety would affect my family. We had always been cautious with what they played and viewed on their phones and electronics but I was so wrong!

In this day and age of high tech, most kids have a Nintendo™, PlayStation™, tablet, laptop computer, or smart phone. But do they know how to be cyber safe with them? I thought mine did.

I recently found videos on my 20-year-old son’s phone that were shocking—he swears he didn’t download them. My son is on the autism spectrum and does not fully understand what has been sent to his phone or how or when to delete it.

It is reported every year that thousands of children and young adults become victims of cyber abuse and do not realize it until it’s too late.

Cyber abuse can be anything from being bullied through Instagram, web chats, Facebook, Twitter, texting, or emails, to receiving pictures (regular and animated) that are graphic in nature or pornographic. Many times this can leave our kids open for unwanted contact from older people or not so nice friends.

So what can you do to protect your child or young adult? The following are several ideas on cyber safety:

  • Know what their password is and check their devices, browsing history and content often to ensure everything is okay.
  • Know who has put their phone numbers on your child’s phone. There was an instance when a young woman on the spectrum met a man who said he wanted to be friends with her and she allowed him to put his number in her phone. He would then call her to see where she was and she would tell him. This was discovered when he showed up at her event and was trying to get her to leave with him.  She just thought he wanted to be friends.
  • Know how much time your kids spend on electronic devices and set a time limit.
  • Let them know it’s okay to tell you if someone is contacting them that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Know what games are being played. Many of the animated games featuring animation from other countries have the characters with realistic sized body parts or are shown in situations kids should not be watching or may not be comfortable with.
  • Know what websites they are browsing. Sometimes when a website is opened, it can open unwanted sites as well.
  • Know what their friends are sending them. Sometimes friends will send unwanted photos or websites. Know who their friends are and who they are on-line with.

Most of all, explain the reason something is inappropriate or unsafe for them and how to get away from it.

Children and young adults with disabilities many times are unaware of the underlying danger that can await them. It’s our jobs as parents to prepare them. To learn more about what to do if your child is bullied, go to Bullying Children with Disabilities.

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