Parents, guardians and educators, your children are probably already jumping up and down at the idea of being off school, sleeping in and having homework-free afternoons. On the other hand, you’ve probably been researching ways to fill his or her free time with summer camps and various activities.

But, extra free time for kids during the summer is inevitable and can tend to mean more screen time. Therefore, it is important to sit down with your children and have a conversation about how to be cyber safe this summer.

Here are 5 internet habits for children to have a #CyberSafeSummer:

  1. Keep personal information private, always. Teach children that personal information should never be shared on the internet including full name, home address, current location, plans with friends, phone number, passwords and age. Make a list of what information is ok and not ok to share (like hobbies, school name, grades, etc.).
  2. Pause before you post. Everything we post online is public, no matter how fast we try to delete or edit the post. Once it is online, it can never be permanently deleted. Talk to your children about possible consequences of posting inappropriate content online (like college admission and future employers).
  3. Online friends are not the same as real friends. Help the child understand that anyone can be sitting on the other side of the screen and it is never a good idea to share information or connect with people they don’t know in real life. Teach them to alert you or a trusted adult in case this happens and block the user immediately.
  4. Keep your location private. Nowadays, nearly every app and device includes geo-tagging features, meaning third parties know your exact location at all times and also possible predators. This information can be dangerous. Teach the children to turn off geo-tagging and avoid sharing live locations on apps or social media.
  5. Strong and secure passwords. Show the child how to make a strong password and have them understand they shouldn’t share it with friends.

Add a little fun to the #CyberSafeSummer conversation by adding Garfield to the mix. Garfield at Home is a great way for your children to re-visit the lesson throughout the summer and be added as part of their summer reading list!

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