Teenagers: Ages 16-18
Parents need to pay attention to what their kids are doing online and a lot of parents don't. A lot of teenagers are able to do what they wish without any adult finding out, until something happens.
A lot of times, parents struggle to find what the appropriate boundaries are between feeling like they’re denying their kids privacy and worrying that their kids will get into dangerous situations online.
Don't break your child's privacy, but keep tabs on what they are doing online. Talk to them every month about what apps they are on and if they are being safe online. If they are on social media, ask if it's okay with them if you send them a friend request or follow them.
Just because your teen is older, does NOT mean that they cannot fall victim to a child predator. Most online predators target children aged 11-15, however many predators target older and younger teenagers. Older teens tend to be the ones who fall into a dangerous online dating relationship.
Tips For Parents
It's tough being a parent and it's even tougher being a parent of a teenager. Teenagers don't pay much attention to what they're doing and they often don't think about the consequences of their actions. This is why parents need to be involved in the lives of their teenagers, both online and offline.
Nearly 70% of kids and teenagers have accidentally encountered pornography online.
Nearly 20% of kids aged nine to twelve have received an online request for a photograph or video that made them feel uncomfortable.
Parents sometimes aren't sure how to talk to their children about being online and many parents believe that they don't need to talk about internet safety with their kids.
If your children are younger (less than 15 or 16), than set stronger boundaries for how they can use the internet. Let them know that they are allowed to have their privacy, but that they still have to be safe online. It may be important to take your child's devices during the night, because that's typically when a child is online the most doing things they probably shouldn't. It's not about breaking your child's privacy, it's about protecting your children.
If you believe that your teen or child is doing things online that they shouldn't be, then reach out to them and talk to them about your concerns, in a non-confrontational way. Remember, that their safety is most important. If you must limit their internet access, do so.
It's suggested that parents never give children under the age of 12 their own mobile devices. They are children and are way too immature to recognize the dangers of being online. If young kids must have a phone at school, then get them a basic phone that can text and call.
Tips For Parents
1. Teach your child how to maintain personal privacy. Over 20% of children are sexually solicited online. When your teen's Facebook page shows their full name, picture, hometown, age, gender and school, it becomes easier for predators to locate them. Talk with your child about why it's important to protect personal information online and what is appropriate and inappropriate to post. Setting rules, such as "no meeting up with people you meet online unless accompanied by someone" can help your child understand boundaries when meeting people online. Children should never meet online friends in person alone, if at all.
2. As the National Institute of Health notes, the brains of kids aren't fully developed until age 25. At younger ages, they may lack judgment and critical common sense skills. Teens might think they're meeting a great person they met online and that could be true, but it also could turn out to be a grown adult talking to your child. Don't take that chance. Never let your child invite an online friend over to your house. Always meet them in a public place. That way other people are around to witness it.
3. If your child is under 14, we recommend using an internet system that offers parental controls and personal protection. Older kids can often times be more cautious when talking to people online, but tweens and kids aren't.
4. Do NOT allow your children to make social media if they aren't of age to do so. Did you know that no one under the age of 13 is supposed to join Facebook? However, there is no real way for Facebook to truly enforce it, because anyone can lie about their age and can then be given full access of the site. You need to make sure that your child stays away from Facebook until 13 AND until you are comfortable with him or her having an account. There are measures put in place, such as reporting an underage child, but ultimately, it should be the parent who has the say on when and if that account gets created. There are reasons that there are minimum age requirements. Follow them.
5. Be open with your teen and encourage them to come to you if they encounter a problem online. If they tell you about someone or something they encountered, your first response should not be to blame them or take away their phone. This can cause your child to not trust you. Instead, sit down with them and discuss how you can help them stay safe online.
When should children be allowed to have a phone and social media?
Teens and Social Media
Most popular social networks require that a child be at least 13 to sign up for an account, but that's not necessarily how many parents feel.
Our suggestion is not allow your kids to access social media until the age of thirteen and even then it should be taken with caution. Like having a phone, being on social media should be used by kids mature enough to use it.
Social media is great, but with it comes a lot of problems, like the following:
Cyberbullying: Teens are often bullied online for what they post and for how they look in pictures. Having social media means that your child may face online bullying. It also means that your child has access to bully others. No parent wants to hear that their child is a bully, but a lot of kids are and parents should understand what can happen when their child gets on social media.
Predators/Stalking: Thousands of predators sit online, ready to prey on teens and pre-teens. Make sure your children use privacy settings online and make sure they know to only accept friend requests from people they know.
Private Information: Make sure that your children know to never post their address, phone number, email, or other personal information on any social network. Sharing this kind of information can put them at serious risk of harm. Kids on social media should never give out personal information even if they think they know the other person.
A majority of 10 to 12-year-olds use social media despite being below the age limit to have an account.
Social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat require account holders to be at least 13 years-old, but hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of pre-teens ignore these rules.
Low Self Esteem: Often times, social media can cause emotional issues for pre-teens and teens. They may get negative comments on their pictures, not get a lot of likes, or not make many friends online, and sometimes teens take it personally and feel as if no one likes them.
Of all the parents who gave their children a phone, 90% of parents provided it in order to get in touch with their children easier. Unfortunately, it also offers your children the ability to access material that could be dangerous for them. Be cautious when giving your child a phone as well as access to social media sites. Make sure they have the level of maturity to deal with the possible consequences of being both online and on social media sites.
Teens and Mobile Devices
The right age to give kids their first cell phone is really up to parents. The most important factor in deciding the right age is your child's maturity level. When children get phones, you are giving them freedom to do anything online. They can send text, share images, and can create videos that can be distributed and uploaded to websites and social media sites instantly. We suggest not giving anyone under the age of eleven or twelve a smartphone, but that's just our suggestion. If you think that your child is mature enough and ready enough to have a cell phone, then you should be able to trust them with the phone.
If you're thinking about getting your pre-teen or teen a phone, remember the following:
Runaway data charges: If you have a data limit, your bill can easily skyrocket without your kid understanding what they're doing. Make sure that they understand this. Also make sure they don't go crazy with purchasing things online, even accidentally.
About 36 percent of parents say they argue with their children daily about device use. Be prepared for how your child acts with their first phone. Most teenagers will become addicted very quickly and often times, it gets in the way of schoolwork and family time.
Some kids are very mature with phones and they use it just for watching funny videos, listening to music, and texting their friends from school. With that being said, a phone gives teens exposure to many things, sometimes bad things. Teenagers have to be mature enough to handle these things.
Any child under the age of fourteen should have parental controls enabled on their phone and parents should be checking in on what their child is doing on the phone. If you're worried about your child walking home from school or being alone at home, buy them a simple text/call phone. We recommend not starting your child out with a smartphone. Buy them a basic phone first and see how it goes.
Some parents today feel like children as young as seven should be able to have a smart phone. Parents don't realize the terrible consequences to these decisions. Predators, stalkers, and hackers are everywhere online in 2018 and some parents think "Well it won't ever happen to my child, they will be mature enough." That is never a safe way to think. It's very simple. If your child is mature and you trust them, then it should be okay. If not, maybe it's best to wait a year or two to keep them safe. Either way, make sure they understand the severity of having a phone and the consequences of using it incorrectly.