Online safety is essential for all children. But those who identify within the LGBTQ+ community are at a higher risk of facing dangers posed by the internet. Online bullying and hate are more often directed towards these kids. Plus, LGBTQ+ children are at risk for sexual violence and exploitation online. So we must do our part to keep them safe on the internet. Whether they are your children, students, or mentees, here are some tips to help you keep your LGBTQ+ kids safe.
Know the risks of online bullying
Cyberbullying is one of the most common online dangers. LGBTQ+ kids are particularly at risk, as they are often targeted and bullied because of their sexuality or gender identity. This cyberbullying can take many forms and can be complicated to stop. Other kids can hide behind ‘anonymous’ profiles, and, even after a profile has been deleted, they can just make a new one.
The best thing you can do is report and block particularly harassing accounts. Help your child see that they are more than what their bullies say, and, if it gets seriously bad, try to convince them to delete their account, or at least reduce their time online. In severe cases, you can report cyberbullying to the police.
Protect your LGBTQ+ children from predators on the internet
One of the biggest dangers that LGBTQ+ kids face online is sexual predators. They may be targeted by someone looking to exploit them, or they may be targeted because they are LGBTQ+. These kids often turn to the internet to explore their sexuality when they feel unable to do so in person.
Talk to your kids about safe and unsafe behavior online. Teach them how to spot predatory behavior. If this doesn’t feel like enough, you can always set up child-safe blockers on your internet, so they can’t access certain websites. However, talk to your kids about what you are doing so they don’t feel unfairly restricted.
While this post is about dangerous parts of the internet, there are also plenty of great gifts the internet brings. There are plenty of websites, groups, and chatrooms that can help your LGBTQ+ children feel supported and seen. But be careful! While free chatlines for lesbians are great for LGBT+ adults wanting to meet someone, it’s not the most appropriate site for children. Check out these chatlines, chatrooms, and groups to ensure they’re safe (and age-appropriate!) before your child uses them.
At the end of the day, you are the parent, and you must be in charge of their safety. So, ensure your child feels comfortable talking to you about internet safety so they will speak to you if anything seems to be dangerous to them.
Keep their privacy protected
One of the most important things you can do to keep your LGBTQ+ kids safe online is to protect their privacy. This means that you should not share their personal information, such as their name, address, or phone number. You should also not post any pictures or videos of them online. Especially not without their permission. This will help to protect them from being bullied and harassed online.
Another important step you can take is to provide them with a safe and secure place to talk to others within the community. By seeing an example of safe online communication, they should be able to spot when they are participating in something unsafe.
Be a responsible member of the internet community
We all must take responsibility for our online behavior. We need to be aware of what we are saying and doing on the internet. If you know your child is engaging in something harmful or illegal on the internet, be sure to talk to them about it. It could save them from some trouble down the road.