It is a common phrase spoken from parents, teachers, friends and even law enforcement; what was he/she thinking? In today’s world of instant everything, teenagers may not stop and think before acting. While there are clear dangers in the physical world, those dangers on the internet aren’t so clear to teenagers.
There are many areas of concern for parents and educators when it comes to the internet. While a quick Google search can tell you what time the movie starts, what yummy flavors of pizza your local pizza shop offers or even a college search when it’s time. There are unfortunately people who set out to prey upon children while on the internet. It’s no secret that kids are always connected to some sort of technology, whether it’s an IPod, computer or cell phone, in fact a report titled Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that teens spend an average of seven hours and thirty-eight minutes using media in a typical day. The average teen also uses more than one type of media at a time meaning they actually pack ten hours and forty-five minutes into those seven and a half hours.
As parents it is our job to ensure our children’s safety, whether it is on the internet or playing in the yard. So here are a few tips provided to you by Parenting Teens Online:
- Without prying, ask permission to check your teens Buddy Lists and review their profiles on MySpace or Facebook
- Be aware of the websites that your teen visits regularly
- Use media blocks such as a V chip & parental controls to filter out inappropriate content
- Remove the electronic media from teen’s room
- Keep the computer, TV & other media in the public space of your home
- Limit the total time your teen uses media each day
For more tips please check out the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, they offer eight safety tips for your teen.
Parents you are not alone in the difficult task of keeping your children safe on the internet. A quick look at some local school districts show they are also eager to help keep your children safe. The City of Niagara Falls’ School Distrct website shows a link to the Niagara County Sheriff Department’s website on internet safety. Niagara Wheatfield School District also has a section on their website dedicated to internet safety. North Tonawanda School District has a page with many resources for parents.
The biggest safety tip for parents is to continue to talk to your children about safety. We all teach our children to not speak to strangers and never get in a car with someone they don’t know. However teenagers and children don’t see that person on Facebook, MySpace or in a chat room as a stranger, so those same rules do not apply. Be clear about the difference between internet and in person safety.
For questions of concerns please feel free to email Melissa at [email protected]