Manic: The fact that my teens pretty much have to be online nowadays to check homework, team emails and more. And of course, they have social media that I keep an eye on but it is all overwhelming yet it is the way of today’s world and I want to keep them as safe as possible.
Managed: When guest writer and former social worker, Amy Williams asked me if she could write an article about teen privacy online, I readily agreed because she has some good and important information to share so read on to work together to try to keep our kids as safe as we can online….
Teen Privacy Online
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With as many as 40.5 million of tweens and teens accessing the internet using smartphones, issues like cyberbullying and teen privacy have become not just occasional issues, but necessary for parents to understand in our current landscape. Deciding how much privacy your teenager should have online is unfortunately not a black and white issue–a multitude of factors must be taken into consideration before making an informed decision.
The Realities of Teens Online
Teens are in a tenuous position, as their brains are not fully developed, yet seemingly have access to the whole rest of the world with a touch of a button. This dichotomy can lead to teens posting embarrassing photos of themselves or others online, giving out personal information to strangers, or participating in or falling victim to cyberbullying.
Don’t Wait for Cyberbullying to Happen
Conversations about cyberbullying need to occur once your child has been given access to online technology. These conversations need to continue on a regular basis, allowing parents to check in with their teens regarding their online activity, including cyberbullying.
One preventative strategy is maintaining a cell phone contract with teens that outlines expectations, responsibilities, and consequences regarding smartphone use. The second element is establishing a monitoring system, which may be difficult but is oftentimes necessary–especially to keep younger teens safe online.
Manage Access to Electronic Devices
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One way to help teens keep information private is to limit their access to electronic devices, like smartphones and tablets, during certain times of the day. If a teen needs to surrender the device to parents by 6 pm on weeknights, for example, then chances go up dramatically that this teen will be working on homework and going to sleep at a reasonable hour.
There are many helpful ways for parents to manage technology in their homes, including:
- Take time outs from technology – not every room needs an electronic device. It is increasingly difficult for kids to find peace and listen to their inner voices, and banishing technology from certain areas of your home can help correct that.
- Model the behavior you want to see – Not every moment needs to be captured or every email and text answered within seconds or minutes of being received. Show your teens that you can put your smartphone away and live in the present.
- Bear the blame – Kids want to be “cool” in the eyes of their peers and may resist limits on technology because they don’t want their friends to know that they need a break. Offer to be “the bad guy” so that your teens can tell their friends it is your fault that they are not online.
Above all, communicate with your kids. Keeping lines of communication open with teens can help parents be aware of how their kids are dealing with an increasingly mobile world.
About today’s guest writer:
Amy is a journalist and former social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. Having spent several years working one-on-one with teenagers, she has seen the impact that social media and the internet has on their minds and emotions. We live in a digital age and Amy believes that it’s time for parents and educators to let this truth impact the way we raise our children and students. Amy is passionate about this subject and works to inform and motivate others through her writing.