Access to the internet means that information is just a click away from your teen, either through their mobile phone or laptop. The internet is a great resource for families helping with homework, shopping and staying in touch with friends through social networks.
Online gaming has become the new going out for many young people as they meet their friends online to play games alongside and against each other. All these wonderful and innovative things you can do on the internet is often overshadowed by the dangers and safety issues of being online. With children being encouraged to use the internet more and more in their everyday lives it is important that parents are equipped with as much information to keep their child safe.
Another way that teenagers are communicating online is through blogging. Blogs are a type of online diary, which other people can read and comment on. It's normal for teenagers to want to communicate with other people their own age, but it’s important that our children also talk to us about what’s happening in their life, at school and in their relationships with others. If you are worried about keeping your child safe online or want to know more about what they’re actually using the internet for, read our tips and hints below.
Tips on keeping your teen safe
- Show an interest in what your child is doing on the net but try for a balance between respecting their privacy and making sure they don't feel the need to be secretive.
- Agree rules such as never giving out contact details online and make sure that your child knows why they should never give out their full name, home address, telephone number or email address.
- Agree with your child what they can and can't have access to on the net. Insist they don't download anything from 'pop-ups' that can appear on the screen. These are often pornographic. Ask them to fetch you if the 'pop-ups' keep reappearing as they can be very persistent. Software like 'Net Nanny' or 'Adware' can be installed to block undesirable sites or 'pop-ups'.
- Remember some young people will use chat rooms to 'reinvent' themselves which is perfectly normal.
- Use this opportunity to talk to your children about related issues such as sex and relationships.
- Don't just have one-off conversations about keeping safe.
- Ask your Internet service provider what service they offer to protect your family.
- Are you intimidated by technology, don't have access to the Internet or haven't had the opportunity to learn? Try your local family centres, colleges, libraries and Internet cafes.
- There are special types of software that can be installed to block unwanted sites or 'pop-ups'. They offer online activity monitoring, recording and blocking. This software protects your children and gives you with the comfort of knowing that you are protecting them without stopping them from using the internet. It also means that you can know at all times what your children are doing when online and are able to put a stop to any potential threats and dangerous situations that might appear. Read reviews on the best software available (for example on www.reviewcentre.com) before making your choice.
Please see our secondary advice pages for more advice on safety and social networking.