When students enter their teen years, they begin experimenting with social networking. This includes a variety of other activities including writing blog posts, commenting, uploading pictures, and sharing videos, downloading music, and using or sharing other files. They will also be using the Internet to conduct research for school, use video chat, use text-based chat, and many other functions. In other words, our teenagers will be living a digital life. This is when tips to be safe on the internet are important.
When children bridge into this new age, the Internet changes from being one that is a solitary experience to a social one. This is especially true for preteens and teens. It is common for teens to use the Internet as a way to express themselves, as well as a way to experiment with different anonymous identities. Even though most of this behaviour is harmless, it is still a good idea to assert parental guidance to ensure these teens are still acting in a way that is safe on the Internet.
Does Online Safety Really Matter?
There is no on or off switch for a teenager’s brain. This means they will act on impulse more often than not. The online anonymity mixed with a lack of controlling impulses could cause teens to strike out toward dangerous behaviours. Such behaviours include illegal downloads, cyberbullying, inappropriate photos, inappropriate videos, cheating, or meeting up with strangers. Online interactions become intense quickly among young people because socializing is important to them; no matter if they’re sharing work, playing games, or chatting with their friends.
When teens leave their digital footprint on the Internet, this can last a long time. The things they share on social media or post through their email can be forwarded by others and passed onward through anonymous audiences. When parents teach their teens about self-reflection before self-revealing, then they are more likely to have a safe online experience.
One of the first steps parents can take with the preteens and teens is to learn exactly what they are doing online, and to ensure they’re acting responsibly and respectfully. Have a conversation about what is appropriate, what is not, what type of content is okay to share, what is okay to download, and what types of interactions are best avoided. When parents help their preteens and teens become good digital citizens who act responsibly, this is what will ultimately help keep them safer on the Internet.
Tips to be Safe on the Internet
- Do not share schools, names, ages, phone numbers, or physical addresses with anyone.
- Never open emails from strangers because they could potentially contain harmful viruses that could damage your computer.
- It is never okay to send pictures to strangers or to look at pictures strangers have sent to you.
- Only your parents should know what your passwords are.
- If something creepy, strange, or mean happens to you online you should tell an adult you trust immediately.
Keep Your Teen’s Online Life Safer with Tips To Be Safe On The Internet
Only Age Appropriate Sites. Make sure sites that promote creativity, learning, and develop your preteen or teen’s interests are being visited. Check each of these websites before your child looks at them. No matter what your child may say, some social networks are not meant for children under the age of thirteen.
Avoid Chatting With Strangers. Explain to your kids that, when people are on the Internet, they are not always who they say they are. Anyone can lie and say they are a friend of a friend. If kids are playing games online with other online players they have never met, they should use extreme caution.
Be a Critical Thinker. When kids see things online, they automatically believe it is true. It is up to you to teach them the difference and teach them how to be critical thinkers. This is where good “safe search” software and parental controls come in handy.
Set Limits. Your kids should have limits regarding how long they spend online. They should also not be allowed to IM (instant message) or video chat while they are doing their homework. These are just a couple of the restrictions that should be set, but they should also include online gaming.
Final Thoughts on Tips To Be Safe On The Internet:
When you discuss these tips to be safe on the internet with your preteens or teens, this should open up a whole dialogue with them and a question and answer session. Rather than approaching them with a set of dictatorship rules, hold a conversation with them where they feel safe coming to you when problems arise.