So you have a teenager that is online and actively using social networking pages. You are probably asking yourself “how can I protect them from the risks that are online?” A staggering 94% of 14-15 year olds in Australia are using social networks. Millions of parents are asking themselves “how can I be assured that my child is safe when online?”
Communication is key. This can be hard with teenagers!!! Its important that your child has a firm understanding of the online risks. Its important that they know that the internet is a very public place. If they don’t want something to be seen by others then they should be aware of the transparency of their online behaviour. Its a place where you can be mentally, physically, and financially vulnerable. Explain why…
Activate necessary safety settings. Most of the main sites have safety and privacy settings that you can control. Make use of these and they will work to protect and filter what your teenager is exposed to. My next Blog will be about adjusting your settings on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.
Embrace the posibilities. With so much now available at your child’s fingertips the possibilities are endless. Schools are educating children as young as six on computer basics. Schools recognise that along with the risks, the internet is a positive place to learn, grow, and be challenged. For every negative site there is a site that your child can learn something new from. Point them towards those sites and encourage their use of them.
Fear will get you no-where. Your approach to the internet will directly affect how your teenager sees the internet. By policing your teenager around the clock and giving them no freedom at all, they will quickly find another way to get around you, and this will reduce your influence in their online activities not increase it.
Educate yourself on the sites that are prone to bullying. Some should be off limits altogether if they are setup to humiliate or make fun of other teens. Sites that offer teens the opportunity to gang up on each other are growing and should be avoided. Most parents would be mortified by some of these sites where teens are encouraged to “rank” each other on sexual performance… Make yourself aware of such sites.
There are some great resources available – the Australian Government has recently released a help button you can download – it offers advice at anytime for your teen when they are online. http://www.cybersafety.dbcde.gov.au/helpandadvice/. Connecting them to groups like Lifeline, and Kids Helpline. They can also report the issue direct from their Social Networks to this program.
As Social Networking becomes more prone to bullying we will see more resources like this being provided. So with the help of online safety tools, communication, and education for parents, we can be confident that we are guiding our teens through the online space with caution and awareness.