How do I keep my teen safe on the internet?
Real Mom Problem
“Anyone else have experience with their teen video-chatting with strangers? Is there some sort of punishment I should be considering? Do I just have yet another serious talk with her?”
- 1. Create a secure password for each site you visit by randomly combining numbers, letters and symbols
- 2. Secure your home network — otherwise a hacker could gain access to anything that's transmitted wirelessly
- 3. Shop only on larger, trusted e-commerce sites or choose smaller retailers who use proven payment processors such as PayPal
- 4. Hackers can hijack the digital camera on your computer and spy on your family — cover the lens with a piece of paper
- 5. Don't send sensitive information by email — it's not secure
Real Mom Solutions
Scary things can happen online, and teens may be too young and naïve to properly protect themselves without your help. These moms share how to keep your teen safe from online predators, adult sites, and other dangers.
Use Parental Controls
My son rarely goes on the internet but when he does, I have Verizon Internet Security Suite so if he tries to go on any website that I have not placed on the approved list, it pops up a box that requires me to come to the computer and put in a password.
I let my son pretty much go where he wants; he knows what he is not supposed to be looking at. We can track anything he does with our internet provider. I use Earthlink because their parental controls are very user friendly.
I use Norton Safety. It's cool, works well. Your child logs in, and it will block sites that you don't want. It logs every site they are on, and you can say how many hours you want them on the computer.
Explain the Serious Risks
I would consider finding real life examples from the news of child predators using online resources to find victims. Share the examples with your teen. Scare the crap out of her. This is not a game.
You should remind your teen that what she puts on the internet NEVER GOES AWAY. Future employers, future boyfriends, friends, enemies can see everything she's posted or done. One of my kids was doing some online chatting, even after we'd talked to her about internet safety and she'd taken an internet safety class at school. She somehow thought she was smarter. She was stunned when I helped her look up the email addresses of some of the "teen guys" she was talking to who turned out to be desperate looking older men. We immediately put multiple levels of protection on the computer: password-protected it so she couldn't get on, blocked social media websites, and set the computer to require a password every 15 minutes while in use. My daughter can't use the computer except for school and unless we're sitting next to her. It was a huge pain to my husband and me, but we adjusted to the changes.
I have a very smart teenage niece that I was able to lure information out of online. She didn't know who I was and yet I got her name, age, school name, who was in her family, who she lived with, what time it was, what state she lived in and a lot of other information out of her. This took the course of two months and talking to her almost daily online. When I had all this information, I went to her mother and gave it to her. We sat down and talked to her about what I had learned from her and what would have happened if I wasn't her aunt and I was someone who wanted to hurt her. There are certain things that you can do to prevent this:
?1. Keep all online computers in a central area, where anyone can see what is being said and done.
?2. Always set your settings up to save conversations. This is not imposing on your child's personal or private lives, it is saving them.
3. If your child wants privacy online, then they are usually doing something wrong. Don't try to be the "cool" parent, be the safe one.
Internet safety is one of those things that needs more than a good talking to. NO computer unless someone is home...period. Ground your teen for a while and don't leave them home alone if they break online safety rules.
I took the internet away from my teen and explained to her why certain things are inappropriate online. I put parental controls all over the computer and she is only allowed on at certain times while I supervise until I feel I can trust her again. There are passwords on all of my lap tops and she has no "access" to the internet anymore.
I'd have a one strike and you're out rule in place. I'd let them know the rules, but they'd know that consequences will be swift, harsh, and non-negotiable. There's just too much temptation and danger in the internet, and teens don't have the maturity to police themselves.