Stranger Awareness and Internet Safety for School Children

Many experts now agree that rather than telling children not to talk to strangers, it is important to teach them to develop good judgment about strangers. If your school-age child becomes separated from you, he or she may need to seek the help of a stranger.

Parents and caregivers should point out people who a child could go to for help in a store or other public place (e.g., uniformed employee, security personnel, police officer, or mom with children). The important part of dealing with strangers is that children should understand that they should not speak to strangers who approach them.

Tell your school-age children that adults should only ask other adults for help. If a stranger asks for help the child should say "no" and leave immediately, to find you or a safe adult.

Many school-age children think that a stranger is someone who looks strange, acts strange, or says strange things. Use pictures or point out people in public to illustrate that a stranger is anyone you do not know well—no matter how "normal" they may look or how nice they may seem in an e-mail. Talk to your school-age child about strangers in regard to e-mail and the Internet.

Computer and Internet safety tips for school-age children:

  • Keep your computer in a common area of your home—not in an isolated room.
  • Monitor the websites your child visits.
  • Limit the time your child spends on the computer/Internet.
  • Make sure your child understands and promises to abide by the following rules for Internet use:
    • Never give out your name, address, phone number, school name, or parent's credit card number to anyone online.
    • Never agree to a face-to-face meeting with anyone you meet online.
    • Never go to chat rooms without your parent's permission.
    • Never open e-mails from someone you don't know.
    • Never go to links you don't recognize.
    • Always tell an adult if you see or read something online that makes you uncomfortable.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 05 Oct 2015