Motherly Collective

With school out, kids have much more time on their hands—and from family vacations to visiting relatives to summer camps and hanging with neighborhood kids, there can be an uptick of fun, but also a deviation from your family’s normal routine. 

All of this extra free time in the summer means that parents often have to be more vigilant when it comes to child safety and protection. This includes water safety, car seat safety when traveling and even stranger danger and internet safety for kids. Here are five summer safety tips to help parents keep their kids safe—without compromising on the fun. 

Here are 5 summer safety tips for kids, from an expert

Tania Haigh, founder of the Kids Too Movement, shares her top tips to keeping kids safe this summer.

1. Be aware of who is around your kids

Summertime brings fun opportunities to travel, which may mean a child could be traveling on a plane solo to visit the other parent or to spend part of the summer with relatives. Being aware that predators can lurk in airports will help parents equip their kids to observe their surroundings and know what to do if they feel they’re in danger.

For example, teach your kids about the international Signal for Help; that the child can approach any airport or airline personnel for help; and use their device to text family (ensure to have contact information pre-populated in device) to communicate an issue along with having Apple Location Sharing on for you to track your child.

In addition, with regard to relatives, it’s important to know that in 90% of instances of child sexual abuse, the predator causing harm is someone the child and family knows. So it’s important for parents to teach their kids to always communicate with them immediately if anyone (stranger, friend or relative) makes them feel uncomfortable or initiates any exploitative behavior. 

Related: Summer camp safety tips for parents

2. Keep tabs on who is around your child—both in person and online

With school out for summer break, kids can have varied routines or no routine at all. This lack of structure combined with a lot of extra free time can lead to excessive use of devices as well as more time spent online using social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Facebook or even gaming on Roblox and other gaming sites.

During these activities, kids may find comfort in making connections online, the nebulous concept of “online friends.” But sometimes developing these online friendships means your children are interacting with total strangers. These “online friends” work on building trusting relationships that can lead to offline dangers, such as agreeing to meet in person. Unfortunately, there are too many unknowns about the real identities of these online avatars.

So, just like it’s important to know what friends are hanging out with your children IRL, monitoring your kids’ online conversations and perhaps eliminating some of their “online friends” is also a significant key to their safety.

3. Be clear about boundaries and don’t shy away from tough conversations

Summer is a great season for outings and social gatherings such as the annual family BBQ, block parties or family reunions. Your children may be exposed to lesser-known people like extended family members or neighbors.

Educate and prepare your children for these social events by having a conversation with them about what to watch out for and what it might look like or feel like if an adult or older child/teen makes an inappropriate advance toward them. Also, remind them of your love and protection and that there are no secrets that need to be kept from parents.

4. Have the “privacy” conversation

As parents, we often think of the school year as the time to get back in the swing of having key conversations with our kids, but in reality, digital safety is one conversation that should be happening year round. Many kids get access to gaming like Roblox and social media channels like TikTok when they’re far too young—long before parents can explain to their kids how important it is for them to keep certain information private. Remind your kids that maintaining privacy—which also keeps them safe—includes not revealing their real names via avatars or account names, never sharing their address or physical location, and never revealing anything about their bodies by taking, sharing or uploading inappropriate images.

Related: 6 essential apps that will keep your tween safe online

5. Do what you can

Keeping your children safe over the summer may mean shifting the talks you have with them from questions like “how was your day at school?” to topics such as “how did it go at your neighbor’s house?” and “who are you gaming with?” and “did anyone make you feel uncomfortable at the pool?” At the end of the day, we want all parents to know that staying involved and engaged in your kids’ lives is the key to keeping them safe.

A version of this post was published July 25, 2022. It has been updated.

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