Keeping your ASD Child Safe Online
Internet Child Safety - How to protect your ASD Child from danger
The internet, gaming, and social media open doors to knowledge, entertainment, and relationships. However, this form of connectedness doesn't come without risks: inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and exploitation. Keep your kids safe from these dangers with the following tips on internet child safety.
What are the potential dangers?
The Internet brings with it a myriad of opportunities for kids with autism, who can use it to do homework or connect socially in ways that would not have been possible before. Unfortunately, it also comes with a host of potential dangers that we need to be aware of and prepared for, including inappropriate content (text, images and videos), cyberbullying and exploitation.
Experts agree that children with autism are more vulnerable to cyber-threats than their peers without an ASD diagnosis. Their vulnerability is due in part to difficulties with social interaction, so they are likely to lack impulse control. Additionally, because they often lack typical emotional responses and may struggle with empathy, children on the spectrum may also be insensitive or unaware of how what they say or do affects others—so they aren’t as inclined as most people would be to avoid hurtful behavior.
Inappropriate Content & Exploitation
While it’s tempting to leave them on their own, you should monitor what they’re doing online and who they're talking with. You can control many of your child’s online experiences. You are able to adjust settings on devices and software, including online games and apps, social media accounts, and other content that a child could access. Make sure these controls are set as you would like them. Be mindful of how much time kids spend in front of a screen (however it is accessed), too.
Manage privacy settings and block inappropriate material using internet filters and special browsers (e.g., Google Family Safety Center).
Discuss the differences between facts and opinions online, such as when encountering comments and posts on social media that may be upsetting.
Have frequent discussions about internet safety including:
Dangers and consequences of visiting inappropriate websites.
Information that should never be provided to strangers online (e.g., date of birth, address, personal images).
Make it clear that your child should not meet online contacts in person.
How to identify and respond to cyberbullying.
Remind your child that they are not in trouble for reporting inappropriate content or online interactions
Utilize privacy settings and parental controls
Turn on “SafeSearch” in Google
Regularly check your browser search history
Keep a list of your child’s user names and passwords
Check user names and passwords often
Learning more/ Additional Internet Safety Resources:
Protecting a child with autism against exploitation: it’s more than just taking computer and phone access away. It's also about setting boundaries and being vigilant of what they're doing on their devices and how they're spending their time online. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to keeping a child with autism safe online.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: NetSmartz offers parent, educator, and child training about online safety. Includes developmentally appropriate videos, handouts, and activities for all ages.