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 – REAL Friends Don’t. REAL Friends Don’t increase awareness and empower parents, caregivers, and young people ages 8-16 about online safety and the risks young people may confront online.

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

  • Regularly talk with your kids
  • Educate yourself on their technology
  • Act if something makes you or your child uncomfortable
  • Learn more at

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 Don’t or how to keep your child safe online, visit