With the rise of social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, it's no wonder teens are spending more hours online, subsequently creating a digital world of their own. While it might be difficult to keep up with all the latest online fads, parents can actively monitor their teens' Internet use to ensure their children are playing it safe.
Many teens say their parents are unaware of their online activities. Furthermore, nearly one-third (29%) of students say their parents would disapprove if they knew what they were really doing on the Internet. It's important for parents to take the time to learn about the manyonline dangersteens are exposed to on a regular basis to effectively keep them out of harm's way.
Cell phone technology also allows teens to stay connected by text messaging and sharing photos, but unwanted photos or video can easily get posted on sites like YouTube or MySpace and have lasting consequences. A recent survey indicates that 6 percent of teens who use social networking sites say someone has posted an embarrassing picture of them online without their permission. Parents must be vigilant about their children's technology use and encourage responsible decision-making skills.
Follow these steps for guidance in making sure your teen uses digital technologies appropriately:
1. Keep the computer in a public space in the home and limit time spent online.
2. Perform technology audits. Regularly check Internet history and phone call/text messaging logs.
3. Use technology to strengthen your parent-teen relationship. Ask your teen to show you his or her online profile and decide whether you want to set up your own page on one of the social networking sites to stay in-the-know.