What Do Teens Do Online These Days?

Mar 28, 2014

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For decades, parents have taught their children never to accept candy from strangers. Today, the same rules should be taught when it comes to accepting friend requests from strangers. Yet, it seems that teens aren’t too aware about staying safe online. For this reason, many of them fall prey to cyberbullies and sexual predators.

The online world is filled with positive advantages. It’s also bursting at the seams with potential dangers directed at teens. And, just like other teen dangers, parents need to be educated about these situations in order to protect their child online.

Do you know what your teen is doing online these days? If the answer is “no,” you should keep reading.

Friend Request Gone Wrong

Jasmine is a teen that has used Facebook since she was 12 years old. According to her, “it was really simple,” to get her own Facebook account at this age. All she had to do was lie about her age when signing up and provide a valid email address.

She admits to accepting numerous friend requests from people she didn’t know. The goal of many teens on social networks it to have an abundance of “friends,” whether they’re known or unknown. It seems this type of status makes a person feel popular both online and in the real world. The virtual popularity contest can lead to hundreds of strangers reading your child’s posts and other private information.

At age 15, Jasmine admitted that she met Michael this way. She believed him to be a teen when he started posting comments on her Facebook page and sending her private emails. They even made plans to meet in person. But luckily for Jasmine, she discovered that Michael was a grown man, posing as a teen before their rendezvous took place. It turns out, Michael was a 32-year old gardener from a city nearby Jasmine’s home.

Once she discovered Michael’s real identity, Jasmine made the sensible choice to remove him as a Facebook Friend. She also blocked him from contacting her again. Unfortunately, many other pre-teens and teens on social media sites aren’t that wise or fortunate. For this reason, it’s very important that parents know what their child is doing online.

Why Teens Sneak on Social Networks

Oftentimes, parents feel the only way to really protect a teen online is to restrict their access to the Internet. But, according to experts, this is the most common reason why teens don’t tell their parents about virtual abuse. Many parents would rather take away all Internet privileges than find more effective ways to handle problems with cyberbullies, sexting and sexual predators.

When kids “sneak out” to go online, specifically on social networks, this takes away a parent’s ability to monitor usage effectively.  Taking your child offline altogether is actually counterproductive, as they’ll find a way to get online one way or another.

How to Protect Your Teen Online

What’s a better way to keep teens safe online?

Teach your teen the do’s and don’t’s of Internet safety, specifically how to be safe on social media sites.

Set specific ground rules as to who to network with, what to post and what not to post online, when it’s acceptable to be on the Internet, and how to detect a predator.

Keep the lines of communication open with your teen. This will ensure that he/she feels comfortable talking to you about people who make them feel uncomfortable online.

Most importantly, as a parent, you should learn about the dark side of the social network world. That way, you can educate your teen and help her/him avoid dangerous obstacles.