The following post is written by our Family Studies intern, Cara, who has been interning with us since May. Cara attends Central Michigan University and is interested in pursuing a career in the Human Services Field.
It’s mid-June and that means that kids are out of school! For most families, this means vacations, sleepovers, trips, and playdates. Every parent knows good summer safety such as applying the right sunscreen, bug spray, water safety, and dehydration. While all those are important safety tips, this summer break it’s also important to be aware of what your kids are participating in and who they’re talking to. An article written by the U.S. attorney’s office of Michigan stated that the Michigan State Police recommend talking to your children about online predators, trafficking, and other risk factors now because of kids’ additional free time and more access to the Internet.
With so much access to the internet, it is vital to stay updated on who your child is talking to online and what types of information they’re putting out. Don’t be afraid to have open communication with them and encourage them to practice healthy behaviors. Here is a list to keep in mind about online safety this summer provided by the U.S. attorney’s office:
Only “friend” and connect to people online that you know personally and delete those you don’t know
Set social media security settings so that only confirmed friends and connections can see what you are posting
Never take a picture of yourself or post anything by text, e-mail, or social media that you would not want everyone in the world to see
Never forward an inappropriate image or message & always notify an adult
Choose screen names and usernames that are appropriate
Never post publicly or give anyone your phone number, e-mail address, or home address
Be aware that anyone you meet online may not be who they say they are
Not All Predators Are Online
Children during the summer months spend a lot of time seeing their friends, having sleep overs, and outdoor adventures. Make sure you talk to your child about appropriate distance to walk alone from the house and who they should and shouldn’t be talking to. It is important to ALWAYS remind your children that they can have open discussions with you and they won’t be in trouble. Make sure you’re asking them appropriate questions about their day. Some example topics and questions might include
Set rules & boundaries for when they stay at other people’s houses
Ask who they spent their day with and what they did
Have the parent’s contact information for who they spend time with
Make a “check-in” schedule or set a curfew time to stay updated
Make sure they can recite their home address, phone number, and emergency contacts
Always check in with your children and be aware of where they are this summer. Know who they’re talking to and make sure they’re staying healthy and careful. Here at the Child Advocacy Center of Lapeer County, we encourage parents and caregivers to always have open conversations with their children about specifics of their day. Healthy relationships are based off of trust and solid communication. Feel free to contact us if you would like more information or resources on safety tips this summer. If you have more questions or are interested in learning more about some of these tips, use the links provided here.