9 Simple Steps For Keeping Your Teenagers Safe Online In 2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Keeping your teen safe online can feel like an impossible task. The internet is a scary place, and its risks are often very public. News of some new cyber threat or data breach has seemingly grown commonplace, leading many parents to feel helpless when safeguarding their kids as they navigate this digital world.  

photo via Canva images

Keeping Our Kids Safe Used to Be Easy

Keeping our kids safe when they were younger was much more manageable. We were the gatekeepers of information, and most of what they consumed was direct non-digital content. And there was a time when all you worried about as a parent was the baby rolling over in crib. But times have changed. 

photo via Canva images

Why is Keeping Our Kids Safe Online So Important?

Let’s not forget that the internet was initially designed as a tool for sharing information. The internet was intended to be a free and open space for information exchange. However, this was pre-social media and pre-smartphones. At that time, the internet was predominantly used by researchers, businesses, and academics. With the rise of social media and smartphones, the internet has become a vastly different and much more dangerous place.

Many of the activities for children are based online now in our modern world. And the internet is now a pretty scary place. It’s full of scammers, fraudsters, and criminals. Unfortunately, it’s also full of misinformation and unregulated content that can leave our kids unnecessarily exposed to risk. 

Parenting in the digital age presents its own unique challenges. So here are some helpful tips for keeping your teenagers safe online and reducing the risks of being constantly connected!

photo via Canva images

1. Educate Yourself About Internet Safety First

The first thing you need to do is educate yourself about internet safety. You’ll need to understand the types of risks your kids will be exposed to online. You’ll also need to be aware of the best practices for safeguarding your kids online. There are some excellent resources out there you can use to better inform yourself about internet safety. Some of these are geared towards parents, while others are aimed at teens. 

You can receive regular updates from organizations like the Internet Watch Foundation. You can also watch social media posts from organizations like Childline or the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). These organizations regularly share online safety, cyberbullying, and child grooming posts. 

When educated about online safety, you’re more likely to recognize potential dangers and threats. This can help you act before your child is in a difficult situation. It can also help you to better understand and explain to your child what to look out for and what steps to take if something happens.

2. Create a Safe Digital Environment at Home

Next, you should ensure a safe digital environment at home. Is your WiFi network secure? Are the passwords of your internet-connected devices protected? Are they regularly updated? How old is your router? Old routers are notoriously insecure, so it’s wise to upgrade yours as soon as possible. If you don’t know how to do this, or you’d like advice on what router to purchase, reach out to your ISP

Bear in mind that the ISP you use can have an impact on how safe you and your family are online. First of all, different kinds of connection to the internet have different means of protection, so it matters whether you opt for a traditional broadband service or you go for some satellite internet providers instead. You should therefore make the right choice here if you are keen to create a safe environment in the home

If you have children or you know that they have friends over, you should have an open conversation with them about internet safety. Include topics like how to keep passwords private, how to avoid clicking on malicious links, and how to spot fake websites. You should also consider installing parental control software on your home network to limit what your kids can access online. This way, you can place restrictions on the websites your kids can visit and who they can talk to online.

3. Establish Clear Rules About Online Behavior

As a parent, you need to establish clear rules about online behavior. These rules should be firm, fair, and appropriate to the age of your children. You should be open and honest with your kids about your expectations, and they should feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns they have. Your rules should cover everything from how much time your children can spend online, who they can talk to online, where they can go online, what websites they can visit, what apps they can download, and what content they can access. 

These rules should also extend to your children’s friends. Make sure your kids understand that they are responsible for the things their friends do online. This will help you keep your kids safe online in several ways. It will allow you to be aware of what your kids are up to online, enable you to monitor their internet usage, and put you in a position to deal with any issues that arise quickly.

4. Set Strong Passwords and Don’t Reuse Them

Kids today are notoriously lazy regarding password security. And they don’t always understand that their online accounts are tied together. One breached account can lead to a hacker gaining access to multiple accounts. This can lead to all sorts of problems, but it can also result in identity theft. Set a good example by using strong passwords yourself, and make sure your children understand the importance of doing the same. 

It’s also a good idea to change your passwords regularly. So even if someone does breach an account, they won’t be able to access your other accounts. Finally, don’t reuse passwords. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, you’re just making it easier for hackers to breach all of your accounts.

5. Help Your Teen Install Professional Software

While you’re setting rules about online behavior, you might want to consider installing professional software. This way, you can help your child stay safe online by blocking access to inappropriate websites. If your child is under 18, it’s best to use a parental control software service specifically designed for younger users. 

These services offer more comprehensive protection than standard parental control software. They also provide useful features like remote monitoring, internet filtering, and usage alerts. You can read reviews and compare the best services online, but here are a few to consider: 

  • Norton Family Premier 
  • Qustodio 
  • Web Guardians 
  • Net Nanny 
  • Boomerang

6. Consider Limiting Screen Time

Teens, in particular, often spend excessive amounts of time online. This can lead to social isolation, academic issues, and an increased risk of online harm. As a parent, there are two things you can do to address this. 

First, you can limit your teens’ amount of time online. For example, you might decide that your kids can’t spend more than two hours per day online, five hours per week, etc. The more reliant your teens are on their devices, the more important it becomes to impose limits. 

Second, you can consider limiting the type of content your teens can access online. For example, you can set your family’s internet service to only allow access to educational content. You can also consider blocking access to specific websites, such as social media and gaming sites.

7. Talk to Your Teen About What They’re Seeing Online

Once you keep your computer safe, it’s essential to explain that same safety protocol to your child. This will help them to understand the threats they face online and how to guard against them. If you don’t feel comfortable explaining the dangers and risks of the internet to your child, other options are available.

If you have teens of your own, you’ve likely been on the receiving end of their social media use. You’ve probably seen them share images or videos that they’ve come across online. It’s essential to understand what’s going on in your child’s mind while online. One of the best ways to do this is to become part of the social media environment your teen is using. 

8. Stay Up-to-Date on New Technology

Parents often feel like they’re underprepared when it comes to digital safety. This can be particularly true for parents who grew up well before the internet. Technology moves incredibly fast, and with it comes new risks, new ways to communicate, and new ways to access the internet. 

It’s important to keep up-to-date on the latest developments. This will help you understand the new technologies available to your child and the potential risks. Several tools can help you to stay up-to-date. For example, you can keep an eye on new technology on online forums and blogs. You can also sign up for newsletters that provide information on recent developments

9. Using Parental Controls

Keeping an eye on your child’s internet use is integral to keeping them safe online. As a result, many internet service providers (ISPs) now offer parental controls as part of their services. These features allow you to control what your child has access to online, what sites they can visit, and how long they can be online each day. 

Parental controls can also block specific websites or provide warnings when a child attempts to visit sites you want to restrict. When setting up parental controls, make sure that you are very specific about what you want to block and what you want to allow.

In closing, the more we communicate with our teenagers, the less likely we are to encounter issues. Stay alert to what your child does online, and talk to them about their friends and social media channels. 

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