The Internet and all of its wonders and dangers is ubiquitous. Regardless of the device your child uses — whether smartphone, tablet, laptop, or family computer — teens are confronted with challenging choices online more than ever. It’s crucial that parents take time to provide their teens with the skills to ensure the Internet benefits them, rather than turning the online world into devil’s playground.
Sometimes your teen may find himself in an online situation and be confused about what is the most appropriate course of action. Should he accept the stranger’s friend request? Is it safe to input personal data? Countless moments of doubt are sure to come up every day. Here are five easy questions you can have your teen ask himself in these sticky situation to cultivate your teen’s smart choices going forward.
5 Questions to Have Your Teen Ask Himself
- Was this website (app, video, etc) designed with teens in mind? Sometimes, your teen may not be sure if a new app or website is age-appropriate. Have him ask himself the following questions to determine if the content was designed with his well-being in mind: Did he have to lie about his age to access the site? Does he suspect that there are images and videos that are inappropriate for teens? Is there a risk adults will be lurking on the site who may try to approach him online? If the answer “yes” to any of these questions, then your teen has the answer whether or not the site in question was designed with teens in mind; and if so, the smart choice is to avoid.
- Is an adult you don’t know crossing the line? You’ve taught your kids not to talk to strangers. In order for your teen to make smart choices, they must understand this same “stranger danger” rule applies online as well. When an adult your teen doesn’t know reaches out to friend them or strike up a conversation online, then your teen can answer themselves whether the adult is crossing the line or not.
- Did you “like” that mean comment? Your teen likely knows it’s wrong to like or give a “thumbs up” to mean and hurtful comments made about others online. Not only does this hurt the victim, but it also encourages the bully to continue the offensive behavior. As well, what you publicly support online might as well be the same as saying or posting the mean-spirited comment yourself. Advise your teen that if the comment is something he wouldn’t feel comfortable posting himself, then the smart choice is to avoid hitting that “thumbs up” button.
- Does your privacy matter? It should! Ensure that your teen understands why privacy matters. If they visit a new site, and the site is asking for their first and last name, a home address, a phone number, and other personal details, then your teen must ask himself “why.” Is it to his benefit or the site’s benefit? Are they simply giving away their valuable information to a marketer or worse — online predator? Encourage your teen to hold tight onto their personal details — why? Because their privacy matters. If you have concerns about online privacy, or any other aspects to parental monitoring you can sign up for a free trial with Familoop. Familoop blends parental monitoring with digital education, so that both children and teens are more knowledgeable about online dangers and parents receive notifications so they can take action before an online event goes too far.
- Will you care about what you post in five years? One way to encourage teen’s smart choices is to teach them self-respect. For both their current selves, as well as their future selves. High school seems like an endless journey — for now — however, adults know the teenage years flash by. What you post online stays there forever, for all the world to see, including: college admissions, future employers, or potential dating interests. Teens must treat their current reputation, as well as their future reputation with respect.
It’s not enough to simply forbid your teens from participating in unhealthy behaviors online. The only way to make a real, long-lasting impact is to help your teens understand the how’s and why’s of becoming a savvy digital citizen. By suggesting these prompts to your teen, they are empowering themselves to make better online choices, even when you aren’t there to protect them.