Online Safety

October 11, 2016

The internet can be a wonderful tool for research, socializing and learning about everything you can ever imagine. For children and adults, the internet or social media can be an easier place to communicate and show emotions. For example, emoticons are helpful to people who have a hard time reading body language, facial expressions and vocal tone. Social media platforms therefore can be an easier place for many people on the spectrum to connect with others without the stress of face-to-face interactions. Unfortunately, the internet also poses some risks to inappropriate content, cyber-bullying and risky behaviors. Therefore, here are some quick safety tips to keep in mind when your child is surfing the web, “tweeting”, chatting or using Facebook.

  • Never give your personal information to anyone online. This includes: phone numbers, social security numbers, address, family information, credit cards, and age.  Most importantly never share your password with anyone. This includes friends and friends of friends.
  • Be careful about what pictures you post on social networking sites.  Even if a site claims the image will only be available for a few minutes, like on Snap Chat, once the image is downloaded it is out there FOREVER.
  • Never post your schedule or whereabouts. It is important especially for children to be careful posting about where they are located and who may or may not be home at the time. This is an invitation for predators.  Parents should be careful to analyze the GPS features of devices to ensure that children can not be located by other users while mobile.
  • Remember that once you post information online there is no way to take it back—it’s there forever.
  • Be appropriate. Never send images of yourself that could come back to haunt you later in life. Do NOT send nude photos of anyone or share nude photos of anyone.  Sharing nude photos is considered a felony – disseminating child pornography. In addition, post only things that you would say to the person to their face that are helpful, kind or appropriate. Too many kids find it easy to bully others while hiding behind the internet. Make sure your child is not one of them.
  • Trust your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.