With technology becoming more and more commonplace in our lives, it's important for parents to educate their children on how to stay safe when using the internet. Teens can be especially vulnerable to online predators and cyberbullying, so it's crucial that they know how to protect themselves. In this blog post, we will discuss eight safety tips for teens who use the internet.
Why online safety for teens matters
As kids get older, they naturally want more independence. They start spending more time with their friends and less time with their parents. And as they become more independent, they also want to explore the online world without parental supervision.
While this is normal and healthy behaviour, it's important for parents to talk to their teens about internet safety before they start spending more time online unsupervised. It's also important for parents to set clear rules and expectations about internet usage in the home.
Some parents might feel like they're constantly playing catch-up when it comes to their kids and technology. But it's important to remember that even though your teen might be tech-savvy, they might not yet have the maturity to handle some of the risks that come with being online. In fact, according to an Ofcom report, over half of 12 to 15-year-olds have had some form of negative online experience. However, only 14% of children in that age range online have used reporting functions. This means that we should encourage our teens to speak up and protect themselves if something inappropriate happens to them online.
We discuss eight key safety tips for teens below.
1. Talk and stay interested in their online activity
Make sure you have regular conversations with your teen about their online activity. What sites do they like to visit? Who do they talk to online? What kind of content are they interested in? Staying aware and involved in their online lives will help you better understand the risks they might face and how to protect them.
It's also important to encourage your teen to come to you if something negative happens to them online. Let them know that you're there to support them and help them solve any problems they might have.
By being involved in their online lives, you can help keep your teen safe online.
2. Utilise privacy settings
Most social media sites have privacy settings that allow users to control who can see their content. It's important to talk to your teen about using these privacy settings to control who can see their posts and personal information.
For example, in apps like TikTok, you can choose to share your videos with all of your followers, some of your followers, or only with people who you approve. These types of settings are very important, and your teen should use them to stay safe on TikTok and other online platforms.
It's vital to talk with your teen about the risks of making their posts public. If they're posting publicly, anyone on the internet can see their posts.
Encourage your teen to use privacy settings to control who can see their posts and personal information.
3. Use safe settings on mobile devices
Most mobile devices have settings that allow you to control who can see your location. It's important to talk to your teen about using these settings to keep them safe on their mobile phones, especially if they're using social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
For example, on Snapchat, you can choose to share your location with all of your friends, some of your friends, or no one at all. You can also choose to share your location with specific friends for a certain amount of time.
It's also important to discuss the risks for your teen of sharing their location publicly or with people they don't know.
4. Encourage the use of family-friendly WiFi networks
Most public WiFi networks are not secure. This means that anyone can access your personal information if you're not careful.
It's important to talk to your teen about using family-friendly WiFi networks when they're out and about. Family-friendly WiFi networks are usually found in places like restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, and hotels. They usually have a password that you need to know in order to connect. Encourage them to use secure WiFi networks when possible.
5. Talk to your teen about being responsible
Being responsible and not sharing personal information online can help protect your safety. Being responsible can also include not engaging in cyberbullying and being aware of online predators.
It's important to have regular conversations with your teen about their online activity and set clear expectations for responsible behaviour. Explain that sharing personal information can be dangerous, and discuss how to handle cyberbullying or unwanted attention from strangers.
Encourage your teen to come to you with any questions or concerns about their online activity. Modelling responsible online behaviour yourself can help your teen see how to stay safe online.
6. Remind them about online reputation
It's important for teens to remember that everything they do online leaves a digital footprint. Once something is posted online, it can be difficult or impossible to remove it. Even if they delete their social media accounts, their posts may still be visible to others.
Encourage your teen to think carefully about what they post online, and how it might affect their future. Remind them that potential employers, universities, and even friends or family members may see what they post. Help them to understand the importance of maintaining a positive online reputation.
8. Discuss cyberbullying
No one deserves to be bullied, and if your teen is being cyberbullied, it's important to talk to them about it. Help them to understand that cyberbullying is not their fault, and that they can come to you for help.
Encourage them to speak up if they see someone else being bullied online. Show them how to report cyberbullying, and help them to block or delete offensive content.
By being aware of the risks online and knowing how to handle them, your teen can enjoy the internet while staying safe. Cyberbullying, online predators, and other risks are all too real, but by talking to your teen and being involved in their online activity, you can help them navigate any potential dangers.
If you're a parent, it's also important to show your teen that you trust them. Showing your children that you trust them will encourage them to come to you with any questions or concerns they have about their online activity.
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