A great tool that parents can use, is something called a safe zone. Here's why I like it.
I'm going to talk to you about a survey. They survey was done for kids 5-19, and they asked them, "Have you ever done anything on the internet that you regret or seen something that made you uncomfortable on the internet." 80 percent of kids in those age groups, said, "Yes." Then they were asked, "Did you tell a trusted adult, maybe a parent, a teacher, a relative?" In the older age group, 90 percent of those kids said, "No." They asked them, "Why not?" And they said, "Because I didn't want to lose my digital privileges, so I just buried it."
Now, we all know that things on the internet, especially the bad things, can go viral so quickly; and the best way to stop them, is you've got to stop them early. That's where the safe zone comes in. The beauty of it is, you talk to your kids before something bad happens. You sit them down, and you have that age-appropriate discussion.
You talk about, "Here are the house rules for how we are going to conduct ourselves on the internet. I'll make you a deal. If you break the house rules, maybe you are at a friend's house or just get caught up in the moment; and you end up searching a word you shouldn't be or you say something or do something you shouldn't. " It's okay to tell me, "Mom, Dad, I've got to invoke the safe zone. There's something I've got to tell you." Then we can work together to work this out, before it snowballs out of control.
"But, I'll tell you one thing, you don't invoke that safe zone, and I find out you buried something, you will get grounded." So you sort of tell them the positive sides of evoking the safe zone and what will happen if you don't." I will tell you, it is so great to see kids and parents invoking the safe zone and having these healthy conversations.
Parents can invoke it, too. If you see your child is suddenly on the internet all the time, obsessed about it; could be a problem. Or suddenly, they have no social interest in the internet at all, also an indicator of a problem. As a parent, you can say, "Honey, I've got to invoke the safe zone. What's going on? You're not acting like yourself. You're not using the internet like you used to."
Encourage your kid to come out and talk to you about it. You'll be surprised at what they tell you, and you'll be able to fix the problems together.