Do You Really Know What Your Teen is Doing on the Internet?

As a parent, you most likely know about the importance of monitoring your teen’s internet usage. You may have installed parental controls, have the computer in a public area of your home, and regularly ask your child about their internet activities. But do you know what your teen is doing on the internet when they aren’t at home?

More and more teens are accessing the internet from places other than their own homes – internet cafes, friends’ homes, and mobile phones are all possibilities. There are more opportunities than ever to gain internet access without parental monitoring. Teens frequently use technology such as Instant Messaging, Text Messaging, Blogging and Microblogging to share their daily activities with their friends and online acquaintances. Your teen’s online network of friends is likely to know where they are and what they are doing at nearly anytime of day or night – information that could be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.

Teens may attempt to access the internet away from adult scrutiny for a variety of reasons. They may simply feel the need for independence – to do something that they know is against the rules. However, there may be other issues, as well, such as meeting forbidden friends online, making purchases you don’t approve of, or visiting sites that they know they shouldn’t be going to. If you suspect your teen is getting online without your permission, be sure to sit down and discuss the matter with them.

If you have trouble with your teen being dishonest about their internet use, you can always design new ground rules. Make it a rule that all internet user names and passwords must be listed with you, and keep tabs on where they are going and what they are posting about themselves online. If they continually access the internet away from home, limit their time away from home. Most importantly, impress upon them the need to be safe, and the consequences that could result from unwise internet decisions.

Ensuring that your teen is a safe internet user may seem like a daunting task. However, by spending time regularly talking about internet safety, you can help your teen to understand the risks involved with unsafe usage. Enforce your home rules carefully, and be as aware as possible of when your child accesses the internet away from home. Set clear limits, along with relevant consequences when the rules are broken, and stick to your guns. Your child needs you to be in charge.

Have a great day!