Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about internet safety. It is designed to complement the Internet Safety topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

The Internet is a fun and educational resource, but all users should understand the importance of online safety. Children should be aware of threats to themselves and their computers before surfing the Internet and downloading files and programs. We recommend establishing rules and discussing safety tips with your children before allowing them to go online.

Pre-K and kindergarten children should not go online without adult supervision. Children in first through third grades still require supervision, but adults should teach them how to stay safe online. Computers should be kept in family areas at home and in easily monitored locations at school. Remind your children to never give out their personal information to strangers. Personal information includes their full name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and age. Details such as where they attend school, birthdates, and names of family members should also be kept confidential. Young children may have trouble distinguishing a legitimate and trustworthy website from a website that may take and abuse personal information. Therefore, if a website asks children for personal information, they should know to consult an adult first. Furthermore, children should never share pictures of themselves or their friends and family members with strangers on the Internet. Remind your children that they should apply the same rules with strangers they meet on the street to strangers they meet on the Internet. Explain that people online may not tell the truth about their identities, so children must practice caution even with people they think they know.

Some children may strike up friendships over the Internet and, under careful supervision, these friendships can be worthwhile. We recommend watching the Friends movie together as a review. Still, there are untrustworthy people who lurk on the Internet. If a child receives an e-mail, text, picture, or chat that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should tell a trusted adult immediately. Teach your children how to block e-mails and chats from a specific user. Children who wish to meet their Internet friends in person should only do so if they are accompanied by an adult. Furthermore, everyone should meet in a safe, public area.

Explain to children that keeping their computers safe is an important responsibility. Many families keep personal information on their home computers and children should understand that their actions on the Internet can compromise their whole family’s privacy. A virus is a computer program that can take over a computer and keep it from functioning properly. Computer viruses can spread to and jeopardize other computers. Children who wish to download a file, game, or program should consult an adult beforehand. Running anti-virus software and anti-spyware programs can also protect your computer and your family.

The Internet is an expansive resource and your children may accidentally navigate to pages that make them feel uncomfortable. You may wish to find and bookmark kid-friendly websites and search engines that will help your children use the Internet safely. Make sure to install pop-up blockers and consider using a firewall or parental controls to block inappropriate sites. Using strong passwords is an easy way to keep computers and personal information safe. Strong passwords are long and use a combination of letters and numbers. Some websites also allow symbols in the passwords. Passwords should never be a person’s name. Another simple Internet safety tip is to log out. Children should always log out of their e-mail, chat accounts, and computers to keep their personal information safe from others. Furthermore, when choosing a username for a chat program or an e-mail address, children should avoid using their own names and use nicknames instead in order to hide their identifies from strangers. Make sure children do not chose nicknames that are flirty or otherwise inappropriate. By teaching safe practices now, your children will be able to explore and utilize the Internet without bringing harm to themselves and their computers.