What to Consider When Allowing Your Teen to Use the Internet

The Internet is a powerful tool in the modern day. As of January 2023, there were 5.16 billion Internet users and 4.76 billion social media users worldwide, amounting to an astounding 64.4% of the human population. With so many people on the Internet, there are bound to be many dangers as well.

Raising a teenager in the digital age is challenging, especially with how common the Internet has become. However, it’s important to ensure that your child is acting safely on the web and not in a way that exposes them, or your family, to danger.

The Dangers of Social Media

While the Internet and social media are not the same, the latter is a major byproduct of the former and is one of the primary uses of the Internet for teenagers. While there are major reported benefits to social media, it’s also worth noting that it opens people up to bullying and exclusion, along with poor body image.

Beyond this, social media has been linked to increased rates of depression and anxiety in adults, as well as teens. Visual apps and information on the Internet have accumulated most of the blame, but the problem is with social media as a whole. Learning how to keep your teen safe on social media, and the broader Internet, can help both their physical and mental health.

5 Ways to Keep Your Teen Safe on the Internet

  1. Talk with your child about upsetting content

It’s no secret that the Internet can contain disturbing information that nobody wants to see or read about. The Internet is an outlet to the world and the world can be brutal. Sitting your teen down to discuss serious global issues can prepare them for the potential discourse and information that they may see online when they visit a site.

  1. Train your teenager to recognize fraud

Cyberattacks are on the rise and fraud is widespread on the Internet. To protect your financial and personal information, it’s important that you discuss what these crimes are with your teenager. Show them examples of what fraud looks like and teach them the common signs to avoid so they can be safer on the net.

  1. Stress the importance of safeguarding privacy information

When it comes to the Internet, it’s almost impossible not to have a digital footprint. However, there is a different between a digital footprint and sensitive data being leaked onto the Internet. Have your teenager run all online purchases by you to ensure financial information isn’t exposed, and always remind them never to put too much information on the Internet.

  1. Dissuade your teen from talking to strangers over the Internet

While online gaming platforms have caused the old adage of avoiding strangers to fade slightly, it’s still important that your teenager understands not to give information to people they don’t know. A powerful search engine that lets you find people for free may provide a stranger with just enough information to track you down.

  1. Limit the amount of time your teen can use the Internet

Finally, it’s best to limit the amount of time you allow your teenager to use the Internet. Whether it’s social media, gaming online, or just browsing the web, encourage them to take breaks from the Internet. Encourage activities such as reading a book or going on a walk, so that they are away from the harmful effects of screens for some time during the day.

General Cyber Awareness Tips to Keep in Mind

Whether you’re trying to protect your child on the Internet or are just trying to stay safe yourself, there are a few general cyber tips that can help:

  • Anybody can be a target to hackers, no matter how small of a target you think you are
  • Scams are sophisticated, so avoid ever providing more information than is needed on the Internet
  • If possible, preview links you aren’t sure about before clicking them
  • Use password management software that is encrypted
  • Always keep your antivirus software up to date

Protect yourself and your family online

When it comes to your children, there is no end to protecting them. While the Internet cannot be avoided and is a major part of daily life, there are certain precautions anybody can take to stay safe on the web. Whether that means reducing your time spent in front of a computer or simply learning to spot fraud before it occurs, keeping yourself and your loved ones safe online always needs to be a priority.

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