Technology is everywhere and adolescents often spend countless hours surfing the Internet. With popular social networking applications, easily accessible information and the ability to quickly download pictures and personal information, it is important for tweens and teens to be aware of the dangers and to take safety precautions. Share these lessons with your children to make sure their next online experience is a safe one.
Keep Personal Information Private
To keep strangers from finding out personal information, last names, locations, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, and bank account information should never be divulged on the Internet, according to the website Onguardonline. Even photos can give away knowledge about the teenager's life. For example, if a photo shows a school or house in the background, the child's location is now evident. Additionally, screen names should not give away much personal information, and should be general or somewhat cryptic.
Online Friends Should be Real-Life Friends
When responding to requests to become friends on social networking sites, only accept real-life friends. Talking to strangers online or accepting strangers on a friend list allows anyone to see all the posted information. Additionally, anyone can lie about who they are online, making virtual conversations with strangers very dangerous. Therefore, keeping a social networking profile private, not visiting random chat rooms, and refusing to engage strangers in online conversations can keep a teenager safer online.
Know How to Deal with Cyberbullying
Whenever a peer spreads rumors online, plays tricks on another student, or passes on emails, instant messages or pictures that were meant to stay private, that person is participating in cyberbullying. Keeping personal information private and only being online friends with trusted peers can prevent cyberbullying. However, if it is occurring, the National Crime Prevention Council suggests blocking messages, refusing to forward emails to other peers, reporting to teachers or parents, and keeping passwords secure to make the Internet safer for all involved.
Parents should continue to talk to their children about the Internet and its dangers. To help a child stay safe, a parent can take precautions, such as insisting on knowing their child's password, placing computers in a public area in the house, and creating a social networking profile to keep tabs on their child.