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Technology has improved dramatically in the recent decade, and young people have virtually unlimited access to the Internet 24/7. The Internet can be a source of many wonderful things, but it can also be a dangerous place. Help your teen avoid cyber-risks before they happen:
Talk to your teen about Internet dangers. Show examples from the news.
- Limit how much time – and in what forms (including smart phones) – your kids can access the Internet.
- Teen privacy is not a right for the Internet. Keep the computer in a family area.
- Be cognizant of Internet access on smart phones.
- Install safety filters and monitors on computers.
- Don’t overreact or threaten to take away the Internet if your child tells you about something bad that they experienced online.
- Call law enforcement non-emergency line for help if you think a predator may be targeting your child.
- If you do not know or understand something your child is viewing online, ask your child to explain it to you.
- Have your child show you that he or she uses the Internet responsibly and ask to see the websites he or she already uses.
- Talk to your child about whom he or she is talking to on the Internet.
Make sure your child feels comfortable coming to you with anything that makes him or her feel uncomfortable online. Often children do not go to their parents out of fear of punishment. Agree not to overreact if your child comes to you with something – the goal is to help each other and stay safe. Talk to your children about the long-term consequences of putting too much personal information on the Internet.
Learn about the Internet yourself – read articles about Internet safety, digital foot prints and Internet predators. Share the information with your child. Make sure that he or she realizes his or her digital footprint (all the things posted, tweeted, texted, and even things others post about them) will essentially remain in the cyber world indefinitely. Stress the long-term consequences of putting too much personal information on the Internet.
Many students do not realize this, but college admissions officials and potential employers frequently check the digital footprint and online reputation of candidates and may reject candidates because of their online profile.