There’s no escaping it… Kids and technology usage are a reality and the sooner parents realise this, the better. Instead of trying to keep your child in the dark ages (which seems to be the 90s for kids of today) perhaps parents ought to equip themselves with important information that will assist them in keeping tabs on their child’s internet usage without being over-intrusive, especially with teens.
The teen years can be fraught with hormonal changes, emotional mayhem and rapid brain development. Add to this the digital era where teenagers are constantly glued to their smartphones or devices, as well as PlayStations and Xboxes. Social media accounts and online chatting opens teenagers and kids to dangers that most parents aren’t even aware of. Parents need to be involved enough to keep an eye on their teens but also respect their need for personal space.
Open communication with your teenager is vital
Having an open and caring relationship with your child even in terms of online activity helps them feel like they can tell you anything. Explain the dangers of cyber-bullying, sexting, identity theft and even personal statuses so that your child can identify these issues should they be confronted with them. Perhaps a good idea is also to tell them only to accept friend requests from people they actually know in real life. Teenagers especially are influenced by the number of followers or friends they have, not realizing that everyone isn’t always a ‘friend’.
Show me so I can understand
Sitting down with your teenager to demonstrate what they need to do will have more of an impact than simply talking about it. For example, show your child physically how to turn their location settings off so that online trolls don’t easily know where they are and what they’re doing. Teenagers are easy targets as they can be easily influenced by sweet talkers and experienced criminals. Photos or selfies should preferably not contain any indication of your child’s school or extra mural location, such as uniforms or clear backgrounds.
What would grandma say if she saw this?
Think about what an adult or someone you look up to would think if they saw your photo or status update. Leaving comments on other people’s posts should be done using the same rule – is it something I will regret later? Remind them that schools, universities and potential work recruiters sometimes look at personal profiles and accounts of individuals to get a feel of what they’re like. Having a photo of yourself drunk with an unsavoury caption may not reflect well on that job opportunity, even if it’s a few years down the line.
Create a code
Trying to be independent, spending time out with friends and exploring new things is all part of being a teenager. However, in today’s times, dangers are increasingly common and most times, kids could have been saved from them had they just had someone to help them. Creating a code is a good idea so that if your child is ever in any kind of danger or in a situation that they’re uncomfortable with, they can communicate the code with you for a safe exit and/or intervention by you.
Install internet safety measure to all your devices
‘Plug & Play’ for ease of installation and configuration, the LucidView Enforcer™ protects children from exposure to inappropriate online content, malware, and other threats associated with unsupervised or unmanaged internet access. Parents can manage the settings of their security router by choosing what to ‘block’, monitor and ‘control’. This enables you to keep a check on what their teenagers are doing online without them feeling like overprotective hawks!
Setting boundaries doesn’t need to be stifling for your child. In fact, keeping an open line of communication will enable them to approach you even in the event of them inadvertently stumbling across something untoward and that’s exactly what you need as a parent.
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