How to Teach Your Teens Online Safety
The internet has become a haven for cyberbullies, sex traffickers, sextortion, and other online predators. In this era, when kids get access to the internet at an early age, it has become increasingly necessary to protect them against possible online dangers.
Protecting your children from physical harm is challenging. Even more challenging is protecting them from the dangers of the virtual world. You won't always be with your kids to shield them from danger. At Mission Haven, we believe that a pragmatic approach to this issue is teaching your kids how to stay safe on the internet, even in your absence. We’ve included some insights in this post.
Keep Abreast of Technology
You can't fight what you don't know. Before you can teach your child how to be safe on the internet, you first have to know how the internet works. You don’t have to be a guru or know every emerging tech trend. For starters, you can learn about the social media platforms your kids are on and the possible ways online predators can exploit them.
Children are usually more tech-savvy than their parents. However, when your kids perceive that you have above-average expertise in using tech, they'll be more inclined to turn to you for help or advice.
Teach Them Time Management
In a 2018 survey analyzing how much teens use the internet, 45% of the teens confessed that they're online almost constantly. It's all too easy for your child to get lost and lose track of time while surfing the internet. They may go on the internet to do research for homework or just check emails, then end up watching videos or chatting with friends online for hours. It's a common trap, even for adults.
You should recognize that the more time your kids spend online, the higher their chances of being exposed to inappropriate content and possibly, sex traffickers, not to mention the health hazards to their eyes. It is, therefore, important that you teach your kids the importance of setting priorities and time management.
Time management is not a skill your child can learn in a day. They have to cultivate it over time by setting priorities, allotting more time to important activities, and spending less time on their phones.
Teach Them to Think Before Posting
Many kids do not realize that what they post on the internet remains on the internet. Often, due to peer pressure, they post photos and comments online that they later find embarrassing. Sometimes, they reveal too much information about themselves than is necessary. Online predators can piece together a child's comments and photos to find out such information as where the child lives, which school they attend, and at what times the child will be home alone.
Teach your children to think before posting pictures or any personal information on the web. Sensitive and personal information is a no-no. Before they hit the upload button, they should ask themselves questions like, Could this photo or comment hurt someone? Would I feel embarrassed if my parents saw this photo or comment? Is this too much personal information to share with the public?
Set Ground Rules
Setting firm rules about how you expect your kids to use their phones is another way to keep them safe. This is one of the tough conversations parents must have with their kids. The rules could cover areas like the use of public WiFi, social networking sites to use and those that are off-limits, and the sharing of personal information.
You should not be too strict in setting ground rules so that you don't incite your child to defiance. Instead, try to involve your child in the rule-making process. It will be easier for him to stick to the rules if he understands the reason behind each rule.
About the Mission Haven
The Mission Haven is a nonprofit, charity-funded organization focused on providing a comprehensive and transformational Haven of Healing for victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. We believe that every single child sex trafficking survivor still has a chance at life at its best.
Our goal at Mission Haven is to provide them with all the support they need to start over. With your generous donations and support, we can continue to provide a true haven of hope and healing equipped with essential resources to lift victims and survivors of domestic minor sex trafficking. To give, volunteer, or become a partner, feel free to contact us today.