Cyber Safety For Parents Of Teens
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To ensure your kids and family are cyber safe and to keep your family’s privacy it is essential to have ground rules for the use of technology at home. These rules should be clear and discussed with everyone in the house. As the provider of the technology and internet connection parents have the right to check the content of their computer or mobile device at any time. Parents should also learn about and use the parental control functions on all the technology in your home. Your child‘s school may have advice based on the controls they use. If you have a desktop computer for family use keep it in a place where everyone can see it. This is obviously harder with laptops and mobile devices so have clear rules about when and where it is appropriate to use them, for example no use after bedtime or at the dinner table.
While teens may want to keep some things from their parents and have a right to some level of privacy it should be agreed before technology is used unsupervised what level of privacy you all expect. Many parents require teens to share their passwords and let them know when they change them. Teens should also be careful and discreet in their use of personal information, which includes their date of birth, address, school or employer and current location. Set up all preferences so that only friends can see photos and personal details.
Ensure the use of technology and time online does not interfere with study, homework and creative or sports pursuits. If you set a particular limit, stick to it. It is recommended that computers are not used at night as it can be hard for teens to step away without an adult to direct them and lack of sleep will make your child tired and less able to concentrate at school. Internet predators are also most active in the evenings.
Use strong passwords and change them at least twice a year. Never download an unknown program and keep your anti virus software up to date. Before you allow teens to use chat rooms ensure they have read and understood the advice on how to use them safely then discuss the dangers with them. If your teens make friends online make sure they understand the risks of meeting cyber friends ‘in the real world’. Think carefully before accepting friend requests, DO NOT accept friend requests from strangers.
Self respect online
Ask your teen to think before posting comments or photos which they may not want others to see. Help your kids to understand their own comfort levels online and to not be pushed beyond them by peer pressure. It is fine to be curious but you must be safe, self aware and respect yourself.
What to do when you think technology use has become inappropriate
If you find material on your teens device which is inappropriate or if technology use becomes detrimental to other areas of their life then confront them and discuss your concerns. If they refuse to discuss which sites they use or turn off their laptop whenever you walk into their room then review the sites they have been visiting from the computer’s internet browser history. It is important to build trust around the use of technology in your home from when your children are small so it becomes normal that they discuss their online experiences with you and come to you first if they see anything they are unsure about.