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R.E.A.L. Friends Don't

As our lives have become increasingly digital, it is more important than ever for parents to help their children navigate online experiences and avoid potentially harmful relationships. One of the many consequences of COVID-19 has been the sharp increase in the number of hours that school-age children spend online.  Without question, connecting with teachers and classmates, and accessing high-quality educational opportunities and content is helping to reduce some of the negative impacts of COVID-19. Yet it creates new challenges for parents; namely, how to keep school age children safe online and away from potentially dangerous content or connecting with individuals looking to exploit a young person.

To help support parents and educate young people, the McCain Institute launched a digital media campaign – R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t. R.E.A.L. Friends Don’t increases awareness and educates parents, caregivers and young people ages 8-16 about online safety and empowers parents to protect their children from harmful content, grooming or online exploitation.

It’s time to get R.E.A.L. about online child exploitation:

       Raise the topic of online safety with your kids.
       Educate yourself on the technology they’re using.
       Act if something makes you or your child uncomfortable.
       Learn all you can. Stay involved and stay alert.

It’s our job to remind our kids who their real friends are. Real friends don’t ask for sexually explicit pictures. Real friends don’t pretend to be something they’re not. Real friends don’t make you feel uncomfortable.

To learn more about R.E.A.L. Friends Dont or how to keep your child safe online, visit