Internet Safety: Tips for Parents and Kids, and Protection Against Online Threats

Today’s online landscape is treacherous for children and teenagers. The responsibility of safeguarding them from a myriad of online dangers is paramount and evolves every day. The New Mexico Department of Justice recognizes the immediate need to equip parents, guardians, and educators with the tools to protect every child from these pervasive dangers.

SMART CHATS logo - SMART stands for Social Media Awareness Roundtables. CHATS stands for Creating Healthy Avenues Towards Safety. Logo is bold letters that spells out "SMART" with a gray chat box underneath it that reads "CHATS" with a dark blue "send" icon.

For this reason, we have created SMART CHATS (Social Media Awareness Roundtables Creating Healthy Avenues Towards Safety), which provides a dynamic collection of guides, statistics and other information to support the residents of New Mexico.

We invite you to explore the resources on this page, share your social media experiences with us, and learn how you can better protect New Mexico’s youth from online dangers.

Share Your Experiences With Us

The New Mexico Department of Justice is investigating social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, for harming children and misleading the public about the safety of these platforms.   

The NMDOJ wants to learn more from New Mexicans who have experienced the harmful effects of social media. This may include bullying, harassment, and exposure to inappropriate content or accounts.    

Statistics and Experiences

From insidious threats of sextortion to the often silent yet violent actions of cyberbullying, the exposure and vulnerability our children and teenagers face online is very real.

An estimated 100,000 children receive online sexual harassment, such as pictures of genitalia, every day on Meta's platforms.

Source: Case D-101-CV-2023-02838; State of New Mexico v. Meta Platforms Inc, et. al

14% of children have enountered online predators in person.

Of these, nearly 75% have done so repeatedly.

Source: Online Predator Statistics [2023 Update],

"...they're not allowed on social media, however I know they see it with older cousins and school friends...Safety is a major concern, [and] at this age they do not limit what information they give to people, so it is very easy for them to give a predator too much information."

Amber K.
Mother of a 9 and 10-year-old
New Mexico

Statistics on sex offenders suggest that up to 85% of online predators are directly involved with hands-on abuse of children.

Source: Online Predator Statistics [2023 Update],

There is a growing backlog of at least 2.5 million flagged underage user accounts.

Source: Case D-101-CV-2023-02838; State of New Mexico v. Meta Platforms Inc, et. al

"One of my biggest concerns as a parent with my child playing online games is that minors may inadvertently reveal personal information about themselves to potential information-stealing predators."

Chad R.
Parent of a 17-year-old
New Mexico

At any moment, an estimated 500,000 internet predators are actively targeting children through various online profiles.

Source: Online Predator Statistics [2023 Update],

20% of children have experienced online sexual solicitation. 75% of these incidents go unreported to parents. Up to 90% of parents will never know about the incidents.

Source: Online Predator Statistics [2023 Update],

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Privacy Guides for Social Media and Gaming Platforms

The NMDOJ offers a series of social media privacy how-to guides, including video game consoles, which have been crafted to provide you with the steps to help protect your child or children online.

Internet Safety Guides

Our Internet Safety Guides equip parents, guardians and educators with tools to help children understand the dangers of sharing information on the internet.

This guide provides practical tips on educating children about cyberbullying and creating a safe space for them if they become victims.

This guide provides strategies for talking with children and teens about sextortion, both to prevent and respond to potential incidents.

Removing Explicit Content

Initiating Conversations on Internet Safety

Starting a dialogue with children about building a healthy relationship with the internet is important in our technology-driven society. The steps below can help parents, guardians, and teachers start this important conversation.
  • Choose the right time: Find a relaxed, quiet time to talk when you won’t be interrupted. This could be after a meal, during a car ride, after school or before bedtime.
  • Begin with positives: Start the conversation by discussing positive aspects of the internet, such as learning tools, staying connected with friends and family, and creative opportunities.
  • Introduce balance: Explain that balance is key when using the internet. Discuss the importance of balancing online and offline activities.
  • Cover potential risks: Talk about the potential and very-real dangers of excessive internet use, including cyberbullying, privacy issues, and the risk of encountering inappropriate content.
  • Establish boundaries together: Work together with your child to set rules for internet use. This can include limiting screen time, choosing appropriate websites and apps, and deciding when and where devices can be used.
  • Encourage open and safe communication: Remind them that they can come to you with any concerns or questions about their online experiences – both good and bad.
  • Revisit the conversation regularly: The impact of internet usage evolves as a child gets older. Revisiting this conversation regularly helps to keep up with their changing needs and experiences.

Download a printable version of the steps above.

Share Your Experiences With Us

The New Mexico Department of Justice wants to learn more from New Mexicans who have experienced the harmful effects of social media.  This could include bullying, harassment, or exposure to inappropriate content.

Form For Parents
Form For Teens