Spending more time online? Here’s what you need to know.

Spending more time online? Here’s what you need to know.

As we continue to practice social distancing, we’re still interacting with family, friends, coworkers and classmates via technology. And while parents should always be mindful of their child’s activity online, now more than ever, children are spending additional time using technology as we all seek out ways to socialize, learn and even exercise through the internet.

Dr. Huma Khan, an adolescent medicine physician with Advocate Children’s Hospital, says kids and teens alike need guidance about what is safe to do online.

“Our children need to be aware of the dangers of online predators,” she says. “Know what devices your kids are using and the websites they are visiting.” Whenever possible, Dr. Khan recommends using parental controls.

She also says parents should help teens use privacy settings on all social media sites. “It’s important teens know not to disclose personal information in order to protect themselves from online predators,” she says.

“Have open conversations about stranger danger,” she encourages. “While this is something that often comes up with younger kids in terms of in-person interactions, this is an important topic to focus on with older children and teens when it comes to technology.”

Dr. Khan recommends having a serious conversation with your children about online threats – not only about not making them, but also about seeing others making them.

“While school and social events are not physically occurring right now, that doesn’t mean the potential for threats are gone,” she says. “Discuss the realities of the world with your children and the importance of reporting threats to an adult.”

“We also need to make sure our children are being extremely cautious when it comes to posting things online,” she says. “They need to understand they can’t just erase what they put out there, and that it can travel. They may not even think about some of these things, including a comment on a photo on social media.” Dr. Khan stresses the importance of discussing the digital footprints teens may leave with inappropriate posts/pictures and the impact this may have with future employers or college admissions.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.