Your teen spends hours on the Internet, but do you know what they are doing? When children are small, we hold their hands to cross the street, we put training wheels on their bicycles and have them wear helmets. We also check out the parents of friends they want to visit – but what do we do to protect them in the digital world?
There are too many tragedies of young people sneaking off to meet someone they have talked to in a chat room. Teens are posting pictures of themselves drinking and doing drugs. They post videos of lewd and illegal acts. Where are the parents?
Parents, your teens need you to be proactive in this social media. I remember my son saying to me “Why can’t you be like other mothers and not know anything about computers!” You have a responsibility to know what they are doing! There are some simple steps you can take.
- Have any computer connected to the Internet in an open area of the house where you can see what they are doing. DO NOT allow them to be alone in their bedroom with an Internet connected device – this includes phones and tablets!
- Use parental controls on the computers. Operating systems (Mac & Windows) have these and there is software you can purchase that will control minutes on the computer and sites they can visit.
- Know your child’s passwords for email, Facebook, twitter etc. Make sure you are their Facebook “friend” and on their Twitter list.
- Have Open DNS on your Internet connection. This is free and can block and monitor sites that all computers and hand held’s visit.
- Learn about safe use of the Internet and talk to your minor child about the dangers and safe use.
Not allowing them to use the Internet at home is not an answer; they find a way at school or their friend’s house. Make sure they are not using duplicate accounts – one that you monitor and one you don’t!
Above all – be a parent! They are minors living with you and YOU are responsible.