Internet Safety Tips for Teens in 2017
When you mix the nonchalance that comes with the teenage years to the excess and freedom found in the online world, the combination can be a dangerous one.
The brain of a teenager is still developing during this time and because of this, your kid isn’t as capable of foreseeing future consequences of the actions done today. Research proves this, as 49% “are unconcerned posting personal info online might negatively affect their future.”
Accordingly, it is up to us as parents to arm our children, and ourselves, with the right rules and tools, to have them experience youth in all of its glory, while keeping our children and their online reputation intact for their future.
Dangerous Internet Trends in 2017
Internet safety for teens has and will always need to be a priority because the online world gives us all, including the shy teenage boy or girl hiding in their room, a sense of confidence that comes from hiding behind a screen. Research has shown how “youth who engaged in four or more risky online behaviors were much more likely to report receiving online sexual solicitations. The online risky behaviors included maintaining buddy lists that included strangers, discussing sex online with people they did not know in person and being rude or nasty online.”
The online dangers of 2016 still apply to the coming year. Your teenage kid must steer clear of speaking to strangers online and especially of meeting any of them in person. You must still keep tabs on the dangerous apps out there, including Ask.FM with its anonymous trolls, Snapchat and Instagram stories, dating apps and YikYak to mention a few, as well as the dangerous forums such as those idealizing suicide or encouraging cyberbullies.
Along with these dangers, there are others you should keep an eye on this new year, including:
A relatively new internet craze, i-dosing “has teens plugging in their headphones to listen to downloadable MP3s that are said to have effects akin to getting high on actual drugs. There are various tracks designed to elicit the same ‘high’ as specific drugs.” The tracks are anywhere from five to thirty minutes long, consisting of “binaural beats, in which the tone of one frequency is played into the right ear and a slightly different frequency is played in the left ear.” While there isn’t enough research to prove i-dosing can lead to the use of narcotics, this new internet trend has parents concerned that their kids could go looking for more powerful ‘highs.’
Instagram first took a page from Snapchat by adding its Stories and now it is heading in the direction of Facebook and Twitter with Instagram Live. It is already hard to erase your online behavior as it is but what is even harder is taking back something when you are streaming it live for everyone to see. This is why it is essential to tell your teenage kid often about the consequences of live streaming inappropriate behavior. More than that, however, you should change your Instagram notification settings, so that if ever one of your kids starts a live stream, you will be notified immediately.
Pro-anorexia websites and forums are nothing new and thinspiration is as trendy today as it was a year ago but with this online obsession, there are always new trends emerging of how a person can prove how skinny she is. Teens, especially teenage girls, have it bad already with the changes going on in their bodies and having trends such as the ‘Collarbone Challenge’ to see how protruding these bones are or the ‘iPhone knees’ challenge to show people the wide gap between your knees, don’t help.
Stay on top of these trends by searching for hashtags on social media relating to the body. Words like ‘skinny’ and ‘thinspo’ will lead to other keywords. You should also monitor your kid’s hashtags to see if she is using any of these tags. It is also good to have a clear conversation with your kid about how everyone on social media is presenting an ideal version of their life.
How to implement internet safety for teens
While staying close to your kids when they are browsing online is ideal, it is not always possible, so here are a few ways you can keep your kids safe online.
Use a parental control app – From blocking social media apps to monitoring incoming texts and emails, a great parental control app can be an important extension to parenting in this modern world.
Check privacy settings – Ensure that your kids’ social media profiles are private.
Keep gadget usage central – Although this is not always possible due to iPads and phones, you can still set internet free zones like their bedrooms by blocking their apps during certain times in the day and giving them access when they are near you in the family room.
Besides adopting these measures and establishing ground rules, you can also become part of your teen’s online community so you know what’s going on. Befriend your kid’s contacts on social media, download the apps your kid loves and see what’s going on and most importantly, be a great example of how a person should behave online.