Online safety is an important conversation that you can share with your teenage kids, where both parents and teenagers have roles to play.
For parents, it’s a good idea to set limits for teenagers on how much time they can spend online – not least because there’s a lot of good fun activity that’s important to their development, like sports, music and play.
But even with their online limits agreed, you still have to be sure that it’s time spent well and viewing content that’s interesting, engaging and most importantly, safe.
Tips from Facebook’s Parent’s portal on ensuring your teenager’s online safety can be accessed here
Here are some steps you can take to ensure your teenager’s online experiences are positive ones and to help you have that conversation:
Start early: Teenagers are growing up in an online world. Take the time to introduce them to privacy and security protocols so that from an early age they know what’s safe and what’s not.
Keep a hand on the controls: Teenagers are curious by nature and will start to explore as they get older. Parental controls can be installed on phones, tablets and laptops as well as your broadband connection. They can block or filter content but also control how much time is spent online.
Set boundaries: Let teenagers know the time they can spend online and the websites, apps and activities they can engage with. Boundaries should cover behavior when gaming, chatting or messaging too. ‘Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in person is a basic rule. It can be useful to remind teens that potential employers and colleges often check social media profiles and online content can be hard to remove.
Be positive: The Internet is an amazing resource for education and learning. Encourage your teenagers to show you the websites they like and what they do there.
And realistic: Acknowledging that sometimes teenagers might come across inappropriate content by accident will make them feel comfortable bringing it to your attention.
Make a deal: Find the right time to deliver your advice and set your ground rules. The day your teenager gets their first phone or tablet can be the day you draw up some easy-to-follow guidelines for online activity that you can stick by.
It’s your responsibility: It’s your parental responsibility to protect them wherever they are, and that includes online. When old enough, make sure a parent friend them or follow them on other social media. You may face resistance, but make it one of the conditions for allowing them access.
Be consistent: Try and follow the same rules. That might mean no devices at the breakfast or dinner table or no texting after a certain hour. Or at least explain why some of the rules are different for adults.