What Concerns Parents Most

There are too many issues related to Internet safety for kids to list all in one article, but the big ones warrant mentioning several times over. Parents are concerned about their kids doing too much on the Internet, getting into trouble, or even becoming addicted to online activity.

Many teens, when interviewed, have admitted that they use the Internet quite a bit. Some have even stated that they would not be able to live their lives in a normal fashion if they could no longer access the Internet. Indeed, many teens’ interpersonal connections may be lost without the ability to instant message or post on social forums, and this is what worries parents about their kids using the Internet.

As we move into the 21st century, parents are becoming more aware that the current generation of kids is the first generation to experience life without the absence of computers. Every generation in the past has had to live without computers and the Internet except for this one. More troubling still is that this new generation of youth seems unwilling or unable to forge real personal connections to other human beings without the use of the Internet. Some members of the older generation may feel that kids today never write letters anymore, or don’t know how to go out and enjoy the outdoors without the sounds of airplanes overhead, traffic from the Interstate, and a cell phone attached to their hip.

Parents worry about how much their kids use the Internet because of all of these things, but above all, the chance for a very real predator to present themselves in the online (fantasy) world. Teenagers take full advantage of the anonymity of the Internet and often present themselves in different lights to different people. This can be seen as nothing more than testing the waters of the real world to see who they are really comfortable being.

Striking up conversations with strangers isn’t unheard of for most of America’s teenage population. Unfortunately, even the most technically savvy teen can be a little naive when it comes to revealing personal details to strangers online. Teens on the whole are careful, but many slip up. Most have responded to an instant message from a stranger or forged a relationship of some sort with someone they have never met before.

Scarier than your teenager initiating contact with a predator is the thought of a predator contacting your teen. It is nothing difficult to put together a string of search criteria and come up with a kid’s profile. An online profile is something that a teenager fills out on their own, and either completely lies or puts down accurate information. Giving a stranger information like where they live, what their interests and hobbies are, or even physical descriptions is commonplace in the teen community.

Of all the concerns that parents have regarding Internet use among teenagers, the most severe is (or should be) how easily a stranger can find them. Too many kids are too trusting online, and those that would take advantage of that trust are too many. Parents must strike a balance between healthy concern and nosiness, but we must all err on the side of caution– even if your kids don’t like it.

Have a great day!

Lawrence