The dangers are real and internet activity often can be hidden from parents. In my practice with teens I cannot count how many teens have been involved with sexting, posting private information and posting details about where they live. This is very dangerous as so many predators are out there ready to friend them and take advantage of their trust. Other teens face cyberbullying and often are afraid to speak up about it.
Here are some startling statistics:
20% of teens have sent semi-nude/or nude photos of themselves
58% of teenagers feel that it is safe to post photos or intimate details online
41% of teens had a negative experience as a result of being on a social media site
The implications and consequences of sexting is great. Teens can be charged with child pornography and end up feeling anxious, embarrassed and struggle to want to go to school if pictures are shared with classmates. By posting private information and details about their lives publicly, they are at risk of predators seeking them out and potentially luring them in to do inappropriate sexual things online or through meeting them somewhere.
Have an open conversation with them about how to keep safe including privacy settings, not sharing personal information and the dangers of sexting, Encourage them to come to you if someone is making them uncomfortable, pressuring them to send nude photos or is bullying them.
Limit cell phone plans, research has shown from the PEW Internet and American Life found that teens with limited cell phone plans were less likely to engage in sexting.
Limit the amount of time they are on their phone. Strong rules like limiting time on phones after school (no phone time after 8:00pm) and not allowing phones in bedrooms overnight can help limit potential exposure online.
Follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and friend them for each account they have. This way you can monitor periodically what they are posting. Warn them about the dangers of posts that can cause problems with future college options, career and potential cyberbullying posts.
Install a parenting monitoring app. You can set time limits, use internet filters and block certain apps. Block all adult content with parental controls on all devices.
Check the browser history on their PC periodically to see what sites they are visiting.
It is a balancing act between allowing your teen their privacy online and wanting to protect them. Remember they still need that extra support because there are so many dangers online. Its better to have your teen upset that you are monitoring them then have them facing a cyberbully or finding a sext of them was passed around at school. They are not always able to assess the consequences of their actions so parental help is required.
The results of negative experiences online can cause feelings of anxiety and depression. If you are concerned about the emotional impact of cyberbullying online, we are here to help! Reach out today for a Free 20 minute consultation at 984-500-2021.