Tips for Parents of Teenagers on the Safer Use of the Internet
The older the children they get, the more and longer they are online. According to European surveys, a third of all teenagers already met unpleasant people in a chat room or encountered disturbing content online. Parents of teenagers often ask themselves: 'What can I do for my teen to make surfing, chatting and emailing safer?' At CyberEthics we wish to approach all issues concerning Internet Safety, the ethical use of mobile phones and new technology in general. This is achieved by informing parents on how to use the internet safely and productively, so that they may protect their teenagers from dangers on the net. One possibility to fight problematic online content is to:
Report online material you consider illegal at SafenetCY Hotline or +357 22674747
It is vital that we all take responsibility for the web and report matters which we believe are illegal. By doing this, we help prevent illegal activities online, such as child pornography, sexual harassment or attempts to lure children via chat, mail or messaging.
The following CyberEthics tips offer preventive protection:
Set reasonable rules together with your teen about using the Internet
Important topics to include in rules are, for example, disclosure of personal information, behavior on the Internet, and which online activities are OK in your family and which ones aren't. Please keep in mind that rules are only effective when teenagers understand the rules and accept them.
Encourage your teen to be careful when disclosing personal information
Explain the dangers of airy data forwarding to your teenager. Many websites require giving out personal information to access content. A simple rule could be that your teen does not give out names, address, phone numbers and pictures of your family unless you have agreed.
Encourage your teen to netiquette
Netiquette refers to the informal rules of online behavior. Let's say it simply: Things that are allowed in real life are also allowed in the Internet. Things that are forbidden in real life are also forbidden in the Internet. Show your teenager how to respect others and their property online. Explain to your teen that rules for accepted behavior don't change just because they are on the Internet.
Discuss with your teen the risks of meeting online friends in real life
The Internet is a great place to meet new people, especially for teenagers. To avoid disturbing surprises, discuss with your teen the risks involved when meeting an online friend for the first time in person. Explain that online friends may not be who they say they are. Come to agreement with him/her to only meet online friends in public places and with another friend of your teen.
Encourage an open and fair communication and atmosphere with our teen
Keep communication open for your teen to know it's never too late to tell you if something makes them feel uncomfortable. If your teen tells you about someone or something they encountered, your first response should not be to blame your teen or take away their Internet privileges. Discuss with your child his/her experiences in chat rooms, when surfing or playing online games. Work with your teen to avoid problems in the future. Remember – your response will determine whether your teen confide in you the next time they encounter a problem and how they learn how to deal with problems on their own.
Teach your teen how to block someone online and to report them
According to European studies, one third of 12- to 19-years-old have encountered pornographic, xenophobic, homophobic, violent content online or harassment in chat rooms. Therefore, teach your teen how to block someone online. Also remind your teen every now and then where he/she can report this disturbing content: CyberEthis electronic form or +357 22674747.
Discuss with your teen the truthfulness of Internet content
Teach your teenager that not everything he/she finds online is true. Encourage your child to ask if they are not sure. Also show your teenager how to check the truthfulness of content by comparing with other sources.
Discuss with your teen how to deal with spam/junk
If your teenager receives spam / junk emails and texts, remind them not to believe, not to reply to or to use those messages.
Learn everything you can about the Internet
Very often teenagers know much more about all the possibilities on the Internet, ranging from Blogs, chats to games and software. To be able to understand your teen's behavior on the Internet, learn as much as possible about the Internet. There are various ways to do so: become familiar with the Internet via using the Internet yourself, do an 'Internet-Drivers-Licence', read PC or Internet journals, ask your teen.
Know what your teen is doing online and who they are talking to
Ask your teenager to show you what is cool and in. Have him/her show you Internet content, websites, programs, you might benefit from them as well. Ask your teen to teach you how to use any applications you have never used. Make 'surfing the net' a family experience; use it, for example, to plan a vacation, pick out a movie, or check out other family activities. Make the Internet an area where you get to be the student and your teenager gets to be the teacher.
Exchange your experiences with other parents
Other parents face for sure similar concerns as you do. Benefit from exchanging and sharing your points of views and solutions in order to increase your understanding of the Internet in general and Internet risks in specific.
Don't forget: Advantages and chances of the Internet outweigh the risks. The Internet is an excellent educational and recreational source for teenagers. It is a world where teenagers can interact outside of the school and their neighborhood. They can meet new friends online who share the same interests, likes and dislikes. Teenagers also use the Internet for school work and as an information source.
Encourage your teenager to be conscious and explore the Internet to its full potential.