Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and Kik are a few apps kids frequently talk about. While parents are aware of the social aspects of these apps, there are also many games they play with chat capabilities – allowing them to connect to people of all ages, all over the world, they don’t know. The games heard most often from children as young as five include, Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, Five Nights at Freddy’s, and Call of Duty. Games that are marketed for a young audience should also be carefully monitored to ensure chat features are turned off.

While apps and online games provide many positive elements – they can be fun, engaging, challenging and exciting; it is also important for kids to know how to stay safe while spending time in the online world and what to do should someone break safety rules that are set in your home.

Many times parents and caregivers are overwhelmed trying to keep up with ever-changing technology. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

– Get online together. Ask your kids to explain how to use the app or how to play the game. Then, create an account or play the game with them. Kids love to explain all they know and are a great resource for keeping up with what is new in the online community.
– Set limits. Keep online devices in a high traffic area of the home and have a “check-in” time each night for all devices.

– Be aware of chat features. Who can your child chat with when they are using apps or playing games? Even apps and games designed for a young audience can have chat capability! Many times parents are unaware of these features and don’t realize their child is connecting with people they don’t know through chat.

The most important component of keeping kids safe online is for parents and caregivers to keep the lines of communication open. Talk to them about staying safe online, ask them questions about what they do online and who they talk to. Let them know they can always come to you with questions or problems, and you will listen and help them to figure it out.