Parents, have you hung out recently around your son or daughters middle school or high school when it lets out for the day? If you have, you’ll observe many teens with their heads down checking emails, texts, social media updates or more on the smartphone devices.
Today’s teens use technology more than ever. Most have Internet connections, either in the palm of their hand or at home on their PC. This access to the Internet can bring immediate access to information, some of which can be very beneficial to learning, studying and understanding school and life concepts.
But Internet access can also mean some dangerous times for teenagers who move their lives online. Some teens are moving the old fashioned locker push of the high school world into the Internet world. It’s called cyberbullying, and it’s risen to the top or near top of the list of areas of concern for parents.
Teens’ lives exist all over: at bus stops, sports practice fields, lockers rooms, school hallways, part-time jobs and friends’ houses. Add another room to teens lives is called the INTERNET. It’s a new place where teens can be bullied. ‘Cyberbullying‘ happens when teens send hurtful text messages, images, video clips or more to maliciously make fun or embarrass another teen.
Some of the online sabotage includes activities like online taunting, name-calling, and abusive comments; aggressive, threatening online tactics, including faking images or videos of the victim, and occasionally, the bullying perpetrator will even go as far as to impersonate a teen by creating a false, lying online impression of the victim.
These activities happen all the time, all over our nation’s school and off-school environments. Almost half of all American teens have been a victim of cyberbullying at one point. But there are steps a teen can avoid this with the help of his parents. It’s a tricky topic to address with teens when it’s happening, due to the sensitivity involved, so it’s better to address prevention of cyberbullying beforehand.
Encourage Outside Interests
Sure, your teen may enjoy the riches of the Internet, but the more you make clear that your teen has to be involved in outside interests, the better off he’ll be. Playing music, participating in sports, creating art and other activities help to foster increased concentration, learning and inner joy. Having this attitude of doing more in real life will have a positive effect down the road.
If you’re a Web-connected user, share your insights with your teenager. Offer him or her some cautionary tips for downloading, clicking suspected links, engaging in online conversations with strangers, avoiding rogue sites and more. If you’re not as smart about the Web, ask among your grown-up friends to take some time to teach your teen.
Use Identity Monitoring Services
There are several companies that have sophisticated identity theft monitoring services, with Lifelock.org among the most well-known, due to its high profile marketing and recent IPO. These services offer a cover of protection against identity theft, and can be a good source of Internet activity monitoring for your teen.
Follow Expert Advice
October was National Cyber Security Awareness Month and there was much information about it available on radio, TV and the Web. Find some of the resources and work with your teen to develop a heightened sense of security around Web activity.