What can parents do to keep their teens safe online?

Parenting has been a frightening proposition since the beginning of time, but parents today are faced with challenges no generation has ever faced: raising children who have spent their entire lives immersed in the Internet and social media. Here we take a look at the threats and the safeguards that make a virtually impossible task manageable. The big bad Internet can be tamed, and your kids can be kept safe.


– 88% of teens say they have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social network.1
– 26% of teens and young adults say someone has written something about them on an Internet page that wasn’t true.
– 16% say someone has put up embarrassing pictures or videos of them on an Internet page without their permission.
Take Action:
– Teach kids: don’t respond to online bullying; report it to an adult.
– Change passwords if suspicious activity is suspected.
– Teach kids how to block bullies on various social sites.
– Report harassment to website admins.

– 82% of children claim to be gamers
– 51% of kid gamers play online
– 47%: teens who play online games with people they know in real life
– Fighting Games: middle school boys’ favorite style of game (and girls’ least favorite)
– 13%: percentage of underage teens to successfully buy mature-rated games
– Take action:
– Treat game consoles with the same Internet caution as a computer.
– Limit gaming features: No webcams!
– Avoid using real names in gamertags or screen names.
– Keep the game console out of the bedroom and in an openly observable location in the home.
– Beware of free downloadable games online, which can be packaged with viruses and spyware

– 93% of boys are exposed to porn online before the age of 18.
– 62% of girls
– 70%: percentage of boys who have looked at online porn for at least 30 minutes straight
– HALF of those boys have done so at least 10 times.
– (Compared to 23% for girls, 14% more than once)
– 39% of boys and 23% of girls have seen online sex acts involving bondage.
– 32: percentage of boys who have seen acts of bestiality online (girls, 18%)
– Rape or sexual violence: witnessed online by 18% of boys and 10% of girls
– 1 in 7 boys and 1 in 10 girls have seen child pornography online
– 13% of web searches are for erotic content
– Take Action:
– Teach kids never to click on unfamiliar links or search results
– Purchase blocking software and use parental controls for browsers
– Keep computers and mobile device use in readily observable locations in the home
– BE OPEN to discussing anything with your children. Let them know and see it’s safe to talk to you.
– Use Internet accountability services to get reports of online use
– Beware anonymizers, sites that conceal your child’s Internet activity. A good Internet accountability service will recognize them.
Online Predators

– “The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teens know are sexual in nature.” Dr. David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes against Children research center
– Most victims of online predators are teens.
– Most victims know they are talking to an adult.
– 50%: percentage of victims who claim to be in love with their predators
– Most teens ignore or delete messages from strangers
– Most sexual predation occurs with someone not considered a total stranger when the relationship begins.
The victims:
– 76 % are between the ages of 13 and 15
– 75% are female
– The predators:
– 99% are male
– 76% are 26+ years in age
– 20 years: almost half of predators are two decades older than their victims
– Chat rooms: the leading initial meeting place (76%)
– Only 5% pretend to be close to the same age as their victims
– Take action:
– Don’t be overly protective to the point of paranoia. Most online activity is fine, and paranoid parents can increase the risk of alienating their children.
– Let your children know what is and isn’t okay to talk about online.
– Look for red flags: increased secrecy and emotional obsession with internet use, withdrawal from friends and family
– Talk openly (not threateningly) with your kids about their online relationships.

– 20%: teens who have transmitted nude or seminude images of themselves
– 39%: teens who have transmitted sexually suggestive messages
Take Action:
– Talk to teens about their definition of privacy: reality TV has completely altered that concept.
– Talk about sexual values and morals
Social Networks

– 55% of kids have a facebook account by the time they’re 12
– 40% of teens have observed illegal or underage drug abuse by their peers on social networks
– More than 1 in 10 teens use social media over three hours a day
– Those teens are almost twice as likely as their peers to binge drink, experiment with drugs, and be sexually promiscuous.
– Take Action:
– Be the decision maker on which social networks your children use and when they’re old enough to join.
– Always be a member of the sites your children join.
– Check browser history for social network use
– Google your child’s name periodically to check for online presence
– Employ Internet Accountability software
– Learn about and adjust the privacy settings on your child’s social networks
– Be clear with your child about what is acceptable to post-make sure they’re sticking to the rules.
– Source: http://www.covenanteyes.com/parenting-the-internet-generation/