How can I make sure my teenager is being safe online?
As teens get older, a natural part of their development includes acting more independently and taking risks, both in person and online. Most of this behavior is normal and will contribute to your teen becoming a mature and responsible adult. By staying involved in what they're doing online -- which includes opening conversations about online activity as well as sharing favorite websites and apps with each other -- you can inject your own values to counteract the negatives and reinforce the positives.
Much of what teens discover and contribute online can be positive and enriching. But there are some risks to their privacy, reputations, and even physical safety unless teens follow certain guidelines. Here are some Internet-safety recommendations for parents of teens:
- Discuss a code of conduct. Tell your kids that if they wouldn't say something to someone's face, they shouldn't text it, IM it, or post it.
- Remind your teens to use social networks' privacy settings so only their close friends and family members can see their stuff.
- Tell them not to send pictures to strangers or view pictures that strangers send to them.
- Explain to them that even messages and photos that promise to self-delete can be saved and shared by others.
- Keep passwords private.
- Remind your teens that people aren't necessarily who they say they are online.