Parenting Parenting Teens

Keeping Your Teenager Safe Online

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Parenting teenagers is challenging. There are so many emotions and new situations that both parents and children are learning to navigate! With modern technology, there is even more for parents to figure out. Keep reading to find out what you can do to keep your teen safe online.

Keeping Your Teenager Safe Online

Keeping children safe online is one of the biggest challenges a parent will face in the 21st century. Online safety can be hard enough with younger children, but teenagers bring additional challenges, like their growing need for independence. They also face other issues regarding online safety, such as cyberbullying, online dating, and sexting. It may seem complicated, but it is possible to keep your teen safe online.

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Educate Yourself

It’s important to remember that teenagers are bright, and if you don’t know what you’re talking about, they’ll be sure to pick up on it. Researching what’s popular with teens online is essential. Research the latest social media sites and top dating apps to see what appeals to your child. Also, be aware that many apps, such as Snapchat and Tinder, allow users to broadcast their location to others using the app.

As for the Internet language, there are many terms you should know to be informed. Many websites have lists of terminology teens use. It’s essential to look at multiple lists and ask other parents because slang does vary amongst regions, teen subcultures, and socioeconomic classes. Knowing the slang will help keep your teenager safe online.

Limit Screen Time

Access to the Internet is a critical component of succeeding in today’s society. Teenagers use the Internet to complete schoolwork, apply to colleges, find summer jobs and communicate with friends. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Studies show that teens who get more than one hour of screen time per day are at a higher risk for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. This includes time spent on a computer, on a cell phone, playing video games, or watching TV. As you can probably imagine, the vast majority of teens get much more than one hour of screen time per day. Some of the effects of this screen time can be counteracted by having dedicated “screen-free” time.

Keeping Your Teenager Safe Online by Getting Offline

Parents can take away laptops, phones, tablets, and other devices for so many hours each day (or whatever arrangement works for your family.) Some families have teens charge their phones in the kitchen or parent’s room to ensure they’re not on their phones at night. Others require teens to complete homework and chores before giving them the Wi-Fi password.

Spend this time getting physical activity, reading, or doing other activities as a family. Doing this helps teens break the cycle of being connected while encouraging stronger family bonds.

Install an Antivirus Program

Having quality antivirus software installed on your family’s devices benefits not only your teen but the whole family. Anybody connected to the Internet is at risk of being exposed to malware. These include viruses, adware, keyloggers, or unwanted software.

These programs allow cybercriminals to steal your identity/data more efficiently, expose family members to inappropriate websites or images, damage your computer, and more.

Teenagers are also apt to explore the Internet without parents present at some point, making them more likely to wander onto a suspicious website. It’s essential to consider that teenagers do the majority of their Internet browsing on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Knowing this is essential in the steps of keeping your teenager safe online.

It’s essential to invest in an antivirus program that protects all online devices. If all your devices are connected via the Cloud, they are also connected. Thus malware that originated on one device can spread to others.

Communication

Proper and frequent communication is the best bet when it comes to keeping your teenager safe online. Make sure you set clear boundaries and expectations for your teen, and explain why you have set these expectations. It’s okay for them to ask questions and have answers prepared. If you don’t know something, it’s okay to tell them you don’t know.

It’s essential to keep up to date on what’s popular amongst teens and talk about it. Even if you don’t allow your teen to visit a particular website or have certain apps on their phone, they might know other people who have access to these sites. It is better for your teen to get information from you and trusted sources you’ve found rather than from their peers or social media.

Being understanding while Keeping Your Teenager Safe Online

Finally, remember that everyone makes mistakes from time to time, especially teenagers. If you discover your teen has downloaded an app or visited a site you’ve banned, don’t act immediately with anger. It’s important to discuss why the teen broke the rules, what information they’ve shared with strangers, and how to negate any risks.

Teenagers may be experimenting with a growing amount of independence, but that doesn’t mean they need your help and guidance in navigating a digital society. Striking a balance between giving your teens freedom and protecting them can be difficult, but you can make it a smoother journey for all by being informed and following these tips. Keeping your teenager safe online takes work but is worth the effort!

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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