Here's a guide to online safety for teenagers

Guide to Online Safety for Teenagers

August 30, 2023


Teenagers nowadays use digital technology for everyday activities, such as keeping in touch with friends through social media and researching for schoolwork. While it’s a good thing, leaving your teens unsupervised while using the internet can come with risks. Teenagers should know how to behave while using the internet and identify unacceptable online content. Above all, they should know the proper steps to take if they encounter something dangerous online. 

Here’s a guide to online safety for teenagers

Here's a guide to online safety for teenagers
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Stay Involved

As a parent, you must get involved with your kids’ internet use. So, don’t hesitate to talk to teens about their online behaviour. They might feel awkward discussing the internet and social media but remember that it’s your responsibility to make your kids understand the importance of staying safe online.

Regular conversations with your kids about the internet are essential and will have more impact if you start it when they are younger. Make the topic normal, like chatting about their favourite movies and TV shows. Think of ways to talk about the risks around internet use and how they can protect themselves. It does not need to be a “big talk”. Talking about the internet for a minute or two every day can go a long way towards protecting your teens online.

Teaching your kids safe and responsible behaviour when using the internet and monitoring their online activities are as important as blocking objectionable materials on their devices. Ask your child about the websites they frequently visit. Find out their favourite games, apps, and social media. Ask them what these things are and what they like about them. Doing so can help you to have informal conversations about your child’s internet use.

Set Boundaries

If discipline, bribery, and intervention cannot limit your teen’s internet use, it’s time to set strict boundaries before it can spiral into technology addiction. Unfortunately, many parents struggle with setting boundaries with their child’s internet use. Before you set these boundaries, you must take the time to understand why your kids prefer to spend most of their time online.

The boundaries you set for your teens’ internet use will depend on their age. Setting boundaries is like teaching your child how to cross busy roads. When they are very young, you want to hold their hands tightly. However, now that they are teenagers, you want them to assess the risks and decide how to stay safe.

It’s a good idea to sit down as a family and establish rules about your teens’ internet use. You must agree on how much time your child should spend online and set boundaries. For instance, you can impose a rule of no phones or devices during mealtimes and that they should not go online before bed so they won’t stay up late, which could affect their sleep.

You can set timers on their devices to limit internet use. But encourage your child to manage it themselves. Consider setting up parental controls to prevent your child from accessing harmful online content. But be aware that your teens may be able to get around these.

Here's a guide to online safety for teenagers
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Consider Safeguarding Training

Although not necessary, parents should consider taking up safeguarding training. Thorough online teenager safety training courses can be integral to parents’ safeguarding and protection measures towards their child’s internet use. The training can help parents understand the dangers of internet use, from online grooming to cyberbullying. Understanding the risks of your teenager’s internet use can help you develop better e-safety practices.

Safeguarding training courses will cover the various forms of danger and abuse the internet can cause your teens. It will also provide detailed information to counter these effects. In addition, the training will teach participants how to identify if their teens are at risk and how to protect them from these risks.

The training is not only applicable to parents. Those working with children, young people, and vulnerable adults should consider taking the training. It will teach them to identify potential risks, vulnerabilities, and suspected online abuse. The safeguarding training is a wide-ranging course covering all aspects of e-safety, exploring the different forms of online abuse, and how to counter these abuses.

Lead by Example

Kids consider adults as role models. Therefore, you should behave as you want your child to behave when using the internet. Share with them the websites and apps you like and explain why they should use them. Show them how you use the internet responsibly, such as when researching things for their homework, talking to friends and family, and watching educational videos. Sharing with your child how you use the internet can give them an idea of how they can stay safe online.

Another way to set a good example for your kids is to avoid toxic social media practices, such as gossiping. Do not partake in gossip if you don’t want your kids to do the same. Avoid venting on your social media page if you don’t want your kids to follow suit. Teach your kids to talk to someone they trust instead of sharing their issues online.

Here's a guide to online safety for teenagers
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Keep their Information Private

Ensure your teens understand how to keep their information private when using the internet. Online data privacy is a crucial topic, especially for the kids. Children use the internet daily, constantly exposing them to online platforms that use and collect their personal information. 

While they may not fully understand the implications of sharing personal data online, parents should instil in their minds the importance of keeping information private. Explain how sharing information online can put their safety at risk. Inform them how it can affect their future. Online activities can leave a digital footprint that will have long-term consequences. 

Establish open communication channels with your kids and build their trust. Ask them to talk about their online experiences and not be afraid to express their concerns, especially in sharing their data with people they meet online. You must clearly explain to your kids that they should avoid sharing information online, even with people they know.

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