The Internet is almost becoming a basic need for everyone in the present world. With it becoming so accessible, even teenagers are increasingly using it. The Internet has become a major platform for relationships as most teenagers are mostly interested in social media. It has become so crucial in their lives such that now the education curriculum is on the Internet. Their assignments are accessed through emails. They do research for their projects on the Internet. Yet the Internet has harsh and unacceptable content for people at their age. As if that’s not enough, the teens have become targets of other cyber-crimes.
Most teenagers access the Internet from their smartphones, tablets and are able to access the unlimited Internet. A recent research study showed that networking sites play a major role in their relationships. It specified that, on average a teen of between 12-15 years old, has about 272 active social network friends. So you can imagine what type of content they might be receiving. It also shockingly revealed that 60% of teens are either sexually harassed or involved in online sexual activities. They are either involved in an exchange of sexual photos or videos of themselves. It further showed that kids of between 12-15 years prefer watching content on YouTube rather than TV.
How do you protect your children from all these? We have compiled some e-safety tips that you may engage so that your kid can benefit without getting lost on the Internet.
- Stay involved
Stay close to your kids and always find out what they are up to, but not in a harsh and unfriendly way. If you stay friends with your kids, they will find it easier to open up to you on what is going on in their lives, including on the Internet. Introduce the topics on sex chatting, cyberbullying and pornography. Let them know the facts and prepare them on what to do when confronted with scenarios involving such matters.
- Keep their information private
Most teenagers have set their own privacy settings so that no one is able to access their information or even view or share what they post on social platforms. While this may not sit well with you, trying to forcefully access your teen’s information will only make them more secretive. Allow them their own personal space, while regularly having open discussions regarding their online activity.
- Stay safe on the move
Make sure all your mobile devices have safe settings. But take caution because if your child is using a public network such as one in an airport or a coffee house, the filters that block inappropriate content like pornography videos may not be active.
- Be responsible
Teenagers have a tendency of becoming unusually courageous when online. They may say things online that they wouldn’t say physically. So it’s important you talk to them about the importance of being responsible and respectful to themselves and others online.
- Talk about online reputation
Let them understand that anything they upload may affect them in future. Let them upload only things they wouldn’t mind if their teachers and employers see. Make sure your teenager understands that the Internet never forgets, and what they post today may affect them negatively years from now.
- Adjust controls
Here, be a bit careful. Before you set up the controls, show them that you trust them. Have a talk with them as to why it is important to have controls and then agree on what will be implemented. Do not simply dictate what they cannot and can do. Let them know that you value their input in the process.
- Don’t give in
Make them understand that they should never give in to peer pressure on content choosing. Let them make their choices responsibly.