Internet Safety: Your job as a parent just got a lot harder; your child is now a teenager. With everything else that growing up brings, so does more time online doing things us as parents won’t agree with. In addition to keeping an open line of communication between you and your kids, here are our top five internet safety tips specifically for teens.
Your teens already know this one, but it is so important to discuss again. Don’t give out any personal information even if they think the person who is asking for it is safe. This includes but is not limited to their address, neighborhood they live in, school name, and phone number. Giving out personal information is a danger to them from someone wanting to hack into their online accounts to something much more sinister like a predator wanting to kidnap them. Your teen might say you’re overreacting and that nothing will happen to them, but that’s what everyone says before something does happen to them.
Social media is just part of daily life as a teenager whether we like it or not. All their friends use it and it does help them keep in touch with everyone they care about. However, as parents we have to set some ground rules about what’s appropriate on social media and what’s not. That’s why we recommend explaining it to kids like don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want your parents or grandparents to see. Your kids already know they need to keep their posts clean. The concept of only posting things their grandparents won’t be ashamed of really drives that point home and gives your kids a better understanding of how clean posts should be.
Offline we teach to treat others as you would like to be treated and this lesson also applies to online behavior. Ending the cycle of cyberbullying starts with everyone. Research shows that kids who bully, harass or intimidate others online often become victims of that same behavior themselves later. There’s simply no excuse for them to break rules just because they’re online. Remind your kids to treat everyone like they would like to be treated with respect. It’s also important to remind teens that if they find them on the receiving end of bullying, harassment or intimidation to tell you right away so you both can handle the situation together.
Meeting anyone from online in real life is dangerous for everyone, even adults. Teaching our teens to not meet anyone from online is one of the most important ways we can keep them out of harm’s way. Teens have a way of being brutally honest at times and may not understand that not everyone on the internet or online has the best of intentions. Let your teens know that there’s no way to be sure that anyone online is who they say they are. As they get older, they’ll do what they want to, but you can ensure it’ll be in a safe way. When that time comes you can adjust this rule to public places only with a friend or family member, but in the meantime it’s safer for everyone that they don’t meet anyone from online at all.
This tip isn’t exclusive to just teens, but it’s always a good idea to remind our kids anyway. It’s so important for everyone to keep their usernames and passwords to themselves and not to share them with anyone, even friends, teachers or even parents. Online passwords should be a combination of numbers, special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters. They should also be unique to each online account and have no identifiable information in them like their name, birthday or street they live on.
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