Tips to keep your child safe online

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By Dr. Gail M. Gross

Children may be at a much higher risk of becoming victims of Internet crimes than most parents realize. While online computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, it can also open the door to dangerous sexual predators, cyberbullying, and sometimes even financial and legal consequences.

Some of the key risks facing children online today include:

  • Exposure to inappropriate material. Unsuitable material that is sexual, hateful, or violent in nature is frequently circulated online.
  • Physical molestation. According to a recent study by the Crimes Against Children Research Center, one in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact. Providing personal information and arranging a face-to-face meeting can jeopardize the safety of the entire family.
  • According to a Pew Research Centerstudy on bullying, one in 3 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced online harassment. Online relationships can become more harassing, demeaning, and aggressive than personal ones.
  • Financial and legal consequences. Children can find themselves in situations where they have compromised a parent’s financial information or another person’s rights without knowing it.

Here are some tips on how to help keep your children safe in this hi-tech world:

  • Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom.
  • Use parental controls from your Internet provider or blocking software; however, do not rely on this as the only form of monitoring.
  • Communicate with your child about online dangers and encourage them to share their online experiences with you on a regular basis.
  • Always maintain access to your child’s account and randomly check browser history, external hard drives and flash drives, cloud back-up systems, and e-mails.
  • Teach your child responsible use of the web and limit their time online.
  • Research what computer safeguards are being used in your child’s school, public libraries, and in close friends’ homes.


Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC’s The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX Radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, Peoplemagazine, Parentsmagazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU’s Great Day Houstonshow. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.comsince 2013. She currently blogs for Thrive Global. She has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. Most recently, she received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International and Houston Women’s Magazine named her One of Houston’s Most Influential Women of 2016. She is the author of The Only Way Out is Through and How to Build Your Baby’s Brain.