The Worst Things Your Kid Can Learn on the Internet

The internet is a crazy place. Caroline Knorr at Common Sense Media helps parents prioritize what to worry about when their kids go online.

Set a curious kid loose on the internet, and you have a match made in learning heaven. Unfortunately, for every geometry lesson on Khan Academy there are step-by-step instructions for something not just age-inappropriate — but potentially illegal or dangerous.

While browser settings and parental controls can help keep your kids on appropriate sites, it’s nearly impossible to shield them from every risky thing. But most tweens and teens who look up how to make fireworks, for example, are not reckless enough to try it. Try not to freak out if you find them searching for something iffy. That way, you keep the lines of communication open, and you can better help kids to think critically, ethically, and safely about what they find online.

Here are a few examples of the not-so-nice info kids can easily find, plus some conversation starters. (If you’re really concerned that your kid’s explorations are leading them into dangerous territory, you may need to take more serious action.)

How to Drive
You can learn anything on YouTube, even how to operate a vehicle. An eight-year-old boy apparently learned how to drive on YouTube. He then drove his little sister to the McDonald’s drive-thru. It’s not wrong to watch videos on how to drive – but they should never be attempted without the proper permit and an adult.

How to Do…

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