Immersed Online - Internet Safety Tips for Parents of High School Kids

 

Like many middle school kids, teens in high school are living a large portion of their lives on the internet. They might collaborate on school projects online, gather information for term papers and research college options all in one afternoon—all the while toggling back and forth to Facebook and YouTube to stay connected to friends.

Below are some tips and suggestions from CommonSenseMedia.org that tailored for parents of high school students. During this time in their lives, teenagers are learning to think critically about their actions and about the media they take in each day, so many of these tips focus on open discussion and the “footprint” your teen leaves online.

There’s no such thing as “private” online. Anything posted can be seen by or forwarded to strangers, college admissions officers, and potential employers.

Have an agreement about what’s okay to post. Teen years are full of self-expression and rebellion. Just make sure that your teens know your rules about suggestive material or other content that will reflect poorly on them. This means no embarrassing or cruel posts, no hate speech or groups, and no compromising pictures they wouldn’t want the whole world to see.

Help your teen be a good digital citizen. Online cheating is still cheating. And flagging inappropriate content isn’t tattling – it’s keeping the Web a place where people want to hang out and where they can feel safe.

The Golden Rule applies in cyberspace. If they wouldn’t do it in real life, they shouldn’t do it online.

Agree on downloads. What music is okay? Which video sites? What games?

Encourage critical thinking. Your teens should ask “who posted this? Why?” Thinking this way will help them find trustworthy information, and it will also help them avoid online scams that deliver spyware and viruses directly to your home. They should also think critically about their own posts. Teach them to ask, “Why am I posting this? Who will see it? Could it be misunderstood?”

Stay in safe neighborhoods. Just as your teens learn not to walk down dark alleys alone at night, they need to know how to avoid creepy places online. And if they do venture there, remind teens that unpleasant content or talk should get trashed immediately.

Review your own habits carefully. Parents are the ultimate role models. Keep channels of communication open.

Better safe than sorry. Make sure teens are comfortable telling you if anything menacing or cruel happens — no matter what site they were on.

What other topics are important to discuss about online responsibility with your teen? Have you talked with your teen lately about it? How did it go?

Be sure to check out our tips for talking with elementary and middle schoolers too!

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