Teen Tech Week-DIY: Internet Safety
Teen Tech Week (TTW) is a good reminder for parents to “check in” with their teens about technology use and online safety.
Current Natrona County teens have no memory of attending middle or high school without receiving a laptop or using some digital device. Many teens also have cell phones with internet access. These tools may help foster students’ technology skills, but they still need to learn to use such tools safely and responsibly.
From basic warnings of not eating or drinking when using a computer, to protecting your identity and personal information, children, teens and adults alike can benefit from learning and talking about online safety.
Here are a few ideas and questions to consider.
Stranger danger is as real online as it is in real life. Just as you warn children about talking to strangers, talk to your teens about who is a “friend” and who is not.
• If they don’t know someone in “real life,” why are they “friends” online?
• Which online acquaintances can they make plans to meet?
• What information (pictures included) is appropriate to post and share online?
• Do you know their passwords? Do their friends? Who is it appropriate to share passwords with?
Helping teens safely navigate the online world can be difficult when parents aren’t part of that world. Here are a few ways you can get involved:
• Ask your teen to teach you how to use their favorite website or app. They may even enjoy giving you tips and updates on new features, while you become more knowledgeable about the technology and its uses.
• Require that you be an accepted friend or follower on your teen’s Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. Note: if they’re not posting regular updates, you’re probably not seeing their real profile.
Technology has its place, but life “offline” is important too. You may want to designate screen-free times or spaces in your home, encouraging the family to spend time together without interference from devices.
• How much time during the day can be spent online?
• What ways will your family interact without devices?
• Are certain areas of the house, such as bedrooms, screen-free zones?
• When should devices be shut off at night so everyone gets a good night’s rest?
To learn more about online safety, healthy technology habits or library resources for tech-savvy teens, “check in” at the Natrona County Public Library.
(The entire article that included the previous piece was originally published in the March 5, 2013 Casper Journal.)