As the internet continues to grow as an integral part of daily life, teenagers, like the rest of us, have increasingly more digital experiences. However, it’s essential for parents to stay aware of the potential negative consequences of this constant connectivity. With cyberbullying, online predators, and other online risks, keeping your teenager safe online should be a top priority. Here are five ways you can help out:
1. Set Rules and Expectations
When it comes to online safety, one of the easiest steps parents can take is to set and enforce rules and expectations for their teenager’s behavior online. Families often establish household rules regulating time limits, device use, and other critical activities. It’s essential to review and discuss these rules with teens and adapt them to include internet use.
Create specific rules for your teenager’s internet usage. These rules may cover who your teenager can communicate with and what apps they can use to communicate. For instance, establish rules prohibiting your teenager from speaking with strangers on the internet and explicitly instructing them not to share personal information online.
Empower your teenager to understand the rules fully. Discuss the dangers associated with breaking the rules and enforce them consistently. Be careful not to stifle your teenager’s online experiences, though, as that may lead to conflicts and reduced compliance.
2. Privacy and Security Measures
Your teen’s privacy protection and security from a wide range of cyber threats require certain measures. Start by educating them about the importance of privacy and security settings on their apps and accounts. Teach them to set up strong passwords on their accounts and enable two-factor authentication.
Additionally, encourage them not to share personal information online, such as their home address, phone number, or school name, among others. Instruct your teen to keep their private details to themselves or with individuals they trust.
3. Monitor Online Activity
Monitoring your teen’s online activities is critical. It’s essential to keep track of their daily online activities, including who they’re communicating with, what account they’re logging into, and the pages they’re visiting. You should expect to know their social media handles and profiles and have access to log into them at any time.
Use parental control apps and monitoring software to keep tabs on your teenager’s online dealings while using their gadgets. Discuss the importance of self-regulation and responsible, prudent online behavior with your teen so they will understand that you do not seek to invade their privacy but only care about their safety.
Remember to communicate that there will be consequences for violating established rules and that you’re monitoring their online behavior. Regularly checking up on your teenager’s online activity enhances their safety and encourages them to regulate themselves better.
4. Talk Openly About Online Risks
As a parent, you must learn about current online risks so you can discuss them openly and meaningfully with your teenager. Cyberbullying, online predators, and other potential risks may be scary to discuss, but they serve as critical subjects for parent-teenager conversations.
Educate your teen about the dangers of cyberbullying and how to respond appropriately when it happens. Cyberbullying can lead to emotional distress, so inform your teen of the necessary approaches to dealing with the issue. They should not engage in any form of retaliation towards the bully, as this can escalate the issue.
Moreover, Discuss with your teenager the potential risks of sharing explicit images or videos. Remind them that once something is published on the internet, deleting it becomes almost impossible. Encourage your teen to report any suspicious behavior or content they come across online, and make sure they know they can always approach you with their concerns.
5. Encourage Responsible Use of Technology
Finally, it’s critical to encourage your teenager to use technology responsibly. Explain the importance of maintaining a balance of technology use with physical activities and regular face-to-face interactions with friends and family members. Help your teen identify alternative and creative ways to fill their time beyond the internet. Involve them in safe offline activities to distract them from lingering online.
As parents, we also need to model responsible technology and social media use. Discuss with your teen how and why you use technology and emphasize that you limit your own screen time. Finally, consider working together with your young ones to develop a culture of technology responsibility.