As your child becomes a teenager, most likely the internet will become a part of their daily life. Kids adapt quickly to new technology and they use it to socialize, communicate, and create. Most teenagers access the internet through a tablet or smartphone and use the K-12 platform and various social networking sites for their education and relationships with others. However, the internet also exposes your kids to many dangers, including predators, cyberbullies, phishing scammers, sexually explicit content, violent or graphic content, and obscene or age-inappropriate content. Here are seven excellent ideas to help keep your teens safe on the internet.
Talk About It
Communication is vital in keeping your teen safe in the real world and online. Whether your child is in the preteen years or has just celebrated their 16th birthday, it is never too late or too early to talk to them about internet safety.
Talk to your kid about the online threats they should know about, and confer the ways to avoid them. By initiating a conversation about internet safety with your teen, they will always come to you when something scary or strange happens.
Prohibit Devices In the Bedroom
One of the greatest ways you can protect your kids and avoid predators is to ensure they keep devices only in shared spaces in your home. Doing this significantly reduces the likelihood of an attempted text, photo, or video chat to an inappropriate request, or visiting an adult website.
Keep Their Information Private
Let your child set privacy settings on most social media sites so that only close friends can search for them and find them, share what they’ve posted, or tag them in a photo.
Monitor Online Activity
Always monitor your child when they are online, especially the younger children. Keep the computer at a central spot in the home where you can easily monitor what your child is viewing and doing online. For mobile devices, set them to always forget Wi-Fi passcodes so that your teen cannot go online without your knowledge. Also, try to agree with them that there are no laptops, gaming, or tablets in the bedroom.
For younger children, consider checking their browser histories after they have been online to see what sites they have been visiting. However, this approach becomes harder as the kids grow older because they discover ways to clear their histories, which is an even stronger reason to communicate with them about internet use and safety at an early age. Ask your child’s school if they use K12 Chromebook monitoring software on their school-provided Chromebooks to monitor your kids during their online learning activities and keep them safe online.
Create Ground Rules
Tell your children your expectations for online behavior and deploy internet safety rules that will help protect them. Suggest things such as sharing online usernames and passwords and email accounts with you. Identify social networking apps and sites that are safe to use and those that are prohibited. Here are more internet safety practices:
Be On the Lookout for Warning Signs
If your kid is acting out of the ordinary with their devices, hiding their screen from you, or being evasive about their online activities, they are likely involved in cyberbullying or any other unsafe online activity. If you notice these signs, you may need to step up your monitoring of their online activities.
Be a Good Role Model
Lead by example and always show the good online behavior you would like your kids to adopt. If your child sees you being respectable and cautious when you are online, they are more inclined to follow in your footsteps. This also includes limiting your own screen time.
Don’t instill fear in your child or prevent them from enjoying the many educational, social, entertainment, and other benefits the internet offers. Instead, give them the knowledge and skills they need to know how to make informed decisions and avoid the negative aspects of the internet.