Even though it’s easy to assume that your internet savvy teens know all the dangers they’re facing as soon as they go online, this isn’t always true. In fact, a survey by the NSPCC revealed that one in four young people in the UK has seen something upsetting on a social networking site, and 58% of those teens have also been upset by someone they knew online. These statistics show the importance of talking with your teen about online safety and showing them how to make smart use of their screen time, using it to learn, create and connect. Here are some key areas that you should cover.
6 Tips For Staying Safe
Start by going through a few simple guidelines for teens to remember while they’re online. Talk through each point and make sure they realise how important they are.
- Be careful what teens share. For example, make sure your teen knows not to post their current location or where they’re going later. Apps like Snapchat can show your exact location when you post, so always make sure these settings are turned off.
- Keep personal information private. Show teens how to turn on privacy settings on their social media pages and make them aware what ‘personal information’ is - their email address, full name, date of birth, phone number, address and school name.
- Keep passwords safe. Make sure they realise the importance of keeping passwords safe and remind them to never write them down.
- Never meet anyone in person they’ve only met online. Discuss in-depth how it isn’t easy to identify someone online and that sometimes people aren’t always who they say they are.
- Be aware of emails and messages that don’t look right. Make your teens aware that some emails and messages are spam or people trying to retrieve information from your computer. Remind them to promptly delete these messages and never reply or provide any information.
- To know how to report inappropriate posts. If teens see or experience something they don’t like or find upsetting, they should know how to report it - make sure you show them how!
Discuss Online Etiquette
It’s a great idea to discuss with teens the importance of being nice to people online. Cyber bullying is a huge problem, especially with the anonymous nature of social media and online messaging - it’s easy for teens to say things they don’t really mean. A good moto for them to live by is to treat others how they would like to be treated. We also recommend having regular discussions about their life online to give them the opportunity to share with you, as it may be the case they’re feeling victimised online.
Stay Involved and Keep Talking
Finally, some of the best advice is to stay interested in what your teens are doing online and keep talking. Don’t be afraid to bring up challenging issues like sexting, pornography and cyberbullying. It could be embarrassing, but you’ll both benefit from the subjects being out in the open. If teens feel as though they can talk through things with you, it will be sure to keep them much safer online and help them make informed decisions when browsing the internet.
For more parental guidance regarding keeping your children safe online, internetmatters.org, has lots of helpful and detailed information.