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A staff reportIn recognition of Safer Internet Day on February 6, 2024, the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office has taken the initiative to promote online safety and responsible internet use. This global event, dedicated to creating a safer and better internet, emphasizes the importance of empowering everyone to use technology in a way that is responsible, respectful, critical, and creative. As parents and guardians, playing an active role in your child’s digital life is crucial. Here are five SMART parenting tips to ensure online safety:1. Set Boundaries and Rules:Establish clear guidelines for internet use. This includes setting limits on screen time, defining appropriate websites and apps for their age, and discussing the importance of privacy settings. Encourage open communication about their online activities and make sure they understand the consequences of breaking these rules.2. Monitor and Mentor:Actively monitor your child’s online activity but do it in a way that respects their privacy and promotes trust. Use parental control tools, if necessary, but also take time to mentor them about responsible internet use. Discuss the dangers of sharing personal information online and the impact of digital footprints.3. Awareness and Education:Educate your children about the risks associated with the internet, including cyberbullying, online predators, and scams. Make sure they know how to recognize and handle suspicious activities or content. Encourage them to always think critically about the information they encounter online.4. Respect and Kindness Online:Instill values of respect and kindness in your child’s digital interactions. Teach them to be mindful of their language and behavior online, and how it can affect others. Discuss the importance of empathy and understanding when interacting with others on the internet.5. Technology as a Tool for Good:Highlight the positive aspects of the internet and encourage your child to use it creatively and productively. Show them how technology can be a tool for learning, creativity, and connecting positively with others. Encourage them to be contributors to a safer, more respectful online community.In conclusion, Safer Internet Day is a timely reminder of the significant role parents and guardians play in guiding their children towards safe and responsible internet use. By implementing these SMART parenting tips, you can help create a safer online environment for your children and foster a healthier relationship with technology. For more resources and support on this crucial topic, visit [Safer Internet Day US] (https://saferinternetday.us/).

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