THE ONLINE CORNER as appears in Snapd Dufferin/Caledon in the September 2019 edition
Internet Safety for Teens and Tweens
As a mother of 3 children -this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Internet safety. I hear the horror stories in the news, and am very concerned about the safety of my children online.
Back to school and back to regular routines in September might be a good time to review some basic tips for online internet safety with our teens and tweens.
88% of teenagers ages 13 to 17 have a cellphone or have access to one. 56% of children 8 years to 12 years old have a cellphone.
With the increased use of computers, internet, smartphones, and social media what are the safety issues caregivers need to be aware of? How can we keep our children safe on the internet? How can we encourage our youth to be responsible internet users?
Obviously there are positive uses for the internet for our children, for educational purposes, staying in touch with parents, and for fun and entertainment. It is important to balance the benefits of internet use while maintaining awareness of the dangers.
Cell Phone Safety – APPS that you might want to be aware of that are currently popular with teens and tweens:
Snapchat is a popular messaging app that lets users exchange pictures and videos (called snaps) that are meant to disappear after they’re viewed. It’s advertised as a “new type of camera” because the essential function is to take a picture or video, add filters, lenses or other effects and share them with friends.
Instagram is a photo sharing app which allows users to assign filters to photos and share them with followers.
It’s a social media app that gives users the opportunity to share 60 second short videos with friends, family or the entire world.
With any social media app (including the three above) it is our role as a parent to make sure we are setting out guidelines and expectations before we allow our child to use their device or use these applications. It is our responsibility to educate and inform children of the good uses of the internet, and the dangerous aspects too.
Talk to your child about protecting their identity. They should never be sharing online their full name, address, or phone number either via social media posts or in private messaging. Having a password to protect their device is also a great idea – make sure you always know what it is.
It is highly suggested that young children set their accounts on these types of apps to “private” so that their content is only shared with people they have accepted as followers. And instruct them to only accept follower requests from people that they know.
The biggest internet safety tool you can use is to inspect your child’s device regularly. Make sure that they know what they post to their social media accounts or via direct message, group chat, or text message is going to be viewed by you. If you find anything of concern on your child’s device – discuss it with them in a firm but safe manner. The last thing you want is for them to try to hide things from you. Have honest discussions with children about Internet Safety and encourage them to bring to you any questions that they might have about content or messages they see online.