In this digital age, teens are faced with more challenges than previous generations. From cyberbullying and online trolls to identity theft and other types of cybercrime, there are ample opportunities for trouble lurking online. Yet, the internet is a major part of our daily lives. To help keep your teen safe online, here are a few strategies:
To effectively keep your teen safe online, you need to be informed about all of the possible challenges that he or she may face. Educate yourself on the latest internet dangers and trends in teen internet usage. Know what apps are growing in popularity among teens, how they work and what makes them a hit. Frequently Google “dangerous apps for teens” to get some of the latest news and information.
Learn the lingo that your teen uses, especially in the digital space. From acronyms and catchphrases to app-specific jargon, you need to learn your teen’s online language so you can correctly spot any issues and address them together.
Share Digital Experiences
To connect with your teen and keep the communication channels open, you need to create some common ground. Share digital experiences to show your teen that you care about what he or she is interested in.
Ask your teen to show you how to use Instagram Stories or how to adjust your Facebook settings so you can block certain people from your newsfeed. Learn how to use the latest social media app together. Let your teen flex his or her technological muscles for you. It really is quite incredible how intuitive things are to your teen that may seem complicated to you.
Discuss Online Risks
There are no shortage of possible risks when using the internet and, for the most part, your teen understands this. However, when it comes to knowing what specific practices are risky, your teen’s understanding may be a bit hazy. Therefore, you must offer clear guidance and direction for how to handle a wide range of circumstances.
To help guide this conversation, simply look to the news. Discuss real life examples of cybercrime, online bullying and privacy infringement using the latest news stories. Offer real examples of the threats your teen faces daily and do not sugarcoat the consequences.
Create a Plan for What to Do
Have a clear plan in place so your teen knows what to do if he or she becomes the victim of online harassment or another digital crime. For instance, if your teen uses apps like YikYak and Snapchat where messages disappear shortly after being read, tell your teen to take screenshots of harassing messages to document evidence and avoid “he said, she said” drama when confronting the issue. Show your teen how to take a screenshot on his or her iPhone or Android phone as well as how to block texts and calls from a number.
Teach Your Teen to Advocate for Victims
Just because your teen is fortunate enough to not be the victim of bullying, whether online or in person, doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t react if others are being victimized. Teach your teen how to advocate for anyone who is being bullied. Your teen can make a positive impact just by standing up to a bully for someone else or simply offering the victim kindness and help. Teens often stand idly by because they simply do not know how to handle such a confrontation, which is why it is so crucial to have an action plan of ways that they can help.