5 Internet Safety Tips for Teens

In this age of technology it is increasingly important to be mindful of what new concerns the technology may bring. Recently I talked about teens and texting, both Reasons To Limit Your Teens Texting and Ways to Limit Your Teens Texting. Now I want to offer up some Internet Safety Tips for Teens.

5 Internet Safety Tips for Teens from Starts At Eight

During our homeschool day our children have a generous amount of time to be in front of the computer. Whether that is from working on their given curriculum work, doing research, playing games, or just having fun, it all involves an element of of the unknown when it comes to the Internet. It can be a scary world out there on the Internet for our teens as you can never quick know what is around the next click, or who will have access to your teen.

On the flip side, the Internet offers up a whole world of opportunities to our teens. From information at the tip of their fingers, to chances for interaction and input from others via forums and gaming. When the kids were little it was easy to just block them out of everything, and only let them play games that had either no chat capabilities or limited chat.

As my children grow I find their needs on the Internet grow too. Even though I would like to just continue to keep everything blocked (because that seems the safest and easiest) I know that technology and learning the technology is an important part of their growth and learning. In order to continue to function in this world a certain amount of technology knowledge is necessary. We have 5th grade students in our local area that are issued iPads for the school year. Most jobs require some sort of computer knowledge, even if it is just to manage the “register” at the local fast food restaurant or clothing store.

Therefore I strive to find a balance between letting them out there on the Internet, along with being safe and knowledgeable about what they are doing.

5 Internet Safety Tips for Teens:

1. Know the Internet Yourself

The best way to have piece of mind and be able to help your teens navigate the Internet is to use it yourself. If you are familiar with things that happen while on the Internet (like the pop-ups on sites, and how different chats work) then you will be better equipped to guide your teen though how to navigate these things.

If you don’t use the technology yourself then you will be unaware of what not only the possible dangers are, but what the many benefits are as well. Staying informed about the programs and sites your teen is using is essential for any parent to be confident in helping their teen navigate safely in the online world.

2. Use a Monitoring Program

When my children are younger I do a lot more blocking of sites to keep them in areas that I feel are safer for them. As they grow and come across sites they would like to use that are blocked, we discuss it and then either unlock the site, or give reasons why we will not unlock it at that time. In our home we use Microsoft Family Safety.

Microsoft Family Safety has allowed us to keep our children out of what we want to keep them out of, but also as we have older children and a teenager is gives us the capability of seeing what sites they are accessing, when, and how often. We have it set up so that I received weekly update e-mails as a reminder for me to monitor our teens Internet usage.

3. Keep Computers in a Common Space of your Home

Our children, like so many others, want to have tvs and computers in their bedrooms. We have not allowed our children to have either of those in their rooms. We have a designated Homeschool Room in our home where all the computers are as well as a charging station for their electronics such as phones and iPods.

Having the computers right in the main space of our home allows me to physically monitor what our children are doing on their computers.

YouTube is one of our greatest resources but I have yet to find a way to keep it unblocked yet still protect my children from searches gone wrong, and inappropriate comments. Thus having the computers right in the main room has made it so they can use YouTube with my permission and be close enough for me to hear and see what is going on in case I need to answer questions or change their direction altogether.

4. Keep Communication Open

Talk to your teens! Teach them what you think they need to know about staying safe on the Internet. Talk to them about how people may not be who they seem, about not giving out personal information such as last name, age, and location of any kind. Go over how to handle searches gone wrong, and the endless amounts of inappropriate comments and sites they will inevitably come across on their Internet journey.

Our children are growing and need to learn to navigate their physical world as well as their virtual one. Approach the Internet as you would anything else with your teen. Talk with them, give them information and guidance as to what they may encounter and how to handle it.

5. Set Up Guidelines

Just like with any else in our teen’s life, we have expectations, rules, guidelines. The Internet is no different. Establish a set of rules for your teen and stick to them. If the rules are broken what are the consequences?

The Internet is a big big place, with lots of variables to deal with. When it comes to your teens and the Internet, be involved, be aware, make the guidelines clear, monitor their activities and keep the lines of communication open.

I am sure these are not the only Internet Safety Tips for Teens. What are some ways they you employ to keep your teens safe on the Internet?

Kids, Social Media & Internet Safety for Homeschooling Families: An iHN G+ Hangout

Check out this G+ Hangout discussing all things kids and social media & Internet Safety.

Topics Include:

  • monitoring styles from “Wild Wild West” to super strict
  • programs to help you monitor like Safe Eyes, Norton, and Microsoft Family Safety
  • helping your kids learn to self-regulate
  • teaching your children about Internet safety
  • differences between boys vs. girls as well as variance by age