Teens on the Internet: How Can You Ensure Their Safety?

February 12th, 2013 posted by Suzanne Donahue

by Suzanne Donahue

According to a recent report by Jupiter Communications and Media Metrix, the most notable increase of Internet usage, by age group, from 1999 to 2000 was among teen girls age 12 to 17, with an increase of more than 125%. A CyberAngels study indicates that 12% of girls ages 13-16 who surf the Internet said they have purposely sought or accepted off-line meetings with strangers after chatting with them on-line. The Internet is a wonderful content, commerce, and communication tool that can benefit people of all ages. There are many family-oriented web sites out there that provide useful content, as well as on-line support groups and interactive communities. But, where can teens visit? Have you ever typed the word “teens” or “teen” into your favorite search engine? Hundreds of X-rated porn sites come up with a only few scattered listings of decent teen sites. Being a teen myself, I have personally searched hundreds of teen communities that are supposed to be moderated. You must skip over messages about sex and sexual acts, bodily functions that are better left unmentioned, drugs & alcohol, and profanity. Not to mention the fact that everyone is trying to pick up dates even though we don’t know if “16-year-old, blonde hair/blue eyed, teen boy” is really a 42-year-old sexual predator. So, how can you allow your teens to safely go on the Internet? Here are 5 tips sure to help you keep your tech savvy teen on-line and feeling trusted:

  1. Give your teen a list of Websites that you feel are safe. Anytime you run into a family-oriented, educational, hobby, or entertainment site that you feel your teen might enjoy, write it down, or send him/her the URL. If your teen wants to go surfing send them to a search engine like Alta Vista where you can turn on the family filter and have most X-rated sites filtered.
  2. You don’t have to check your teen’s e-mail – we all know that, like a phone call, e-mail can be a personal thing – but let your teen know that he/she shouldn’t click on any links in e-mails from people they don’t know. Viruses and porn sites are frequently disguised as money-making opportunities and “cool sites”. Also, they should never open or download any files or attachments.
  3. Teach your teens not to tell too much. Teens are bound to make some good friends on-line – I’ve made quite a few myself – but sometimes, even friends can be suspicious. Set a limit as to how much your teen can tell, such as no last names or addresses.
  4. Monitor the amount of time your teen is spending on the computer, and set specific hours. After school is a good time to be on-line for teens. Since the adult prime Internet hours are around 1:00 AM, late at night is not a good time.
  5. Don’t let your teen meet anyone without you. Even if you think your teen is meeting another teen at a public place like a fast food restaurant, don’t do it! Either you, or another adult, should tag along … just in case. Your teen might not like it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember those 12% of teens that agreed to meet people they didn’t know? I hate to think about how many of them encountered a physically or mentally challenging situation, or worse … never made it home.

So be sure you take time to talk with your teen about their Internet privileges, and set aside some time to go surfing with them once in a while. There’s an on-line world out there full of helpful information just waiting to be explored.

Recommended Reading

: Being a teenager is both wonderful and challenging. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens , author Sean Covey applies the timeless principles of the 7 Habits to teens and the tough issues and life-changing decisions they face. In an entertaining style, Covey provides a step-by-step guide to help teens improve self-image, build friendships, resist peer pressure, achieve their goals, get along with their parents, and much more. (Courtesy Amazon)

Suzanne Donahue (2 Posts)

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