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Online Threats are Real: How Parents Can Keep Their Teens Safe Online

internet activity monitorIt seems that these days there’s always a story in the news meant to shock parents — and with good reason. Recently a 52-year-old man was arrested in Salt Lake City for trying to entice a 15-year-old girl to meet him at a hotel. Once he arrived, he was arrested by the city’s police force. The most terrifying part for parents out there is that the man used Facebook — a popular social networking site used by over one billion people around the world — to meet the girl.

Does your teen have a social media account on a site like Facebook? Are you a parent who’s concerned about whom your children talk to online? You may feel that once your child begins using one of these sites, there’s nothing you can do to protect him or her save taking away internet access altogether. However, though some parents may be tempted to cut off your child’s internet access altogether, other options exist. From following basic tips for internet safety to utilizing internet activity monitoring tools, you can ensure that your children stay safe online.

Use the following tips to keep your kids — and the whole family — safe on the internet:

Communicate Openly
As a parent, you should be able to let your children know the risks of being online. Be available for questions if your kids have them, and “check in” to see how they’re doing.

Use Privacy Protections
Common tips on internet safety include the same kinds of things you wouldn’t say or do for a stranger on the street, like giving out your personal information, address, phone number, or school name. Although social media sites make protecting privacy a bit more difficult, encourage your children to only make their profiles visible to friends and family and only take friend requests from people they know in real life.

Limit Computer and Phone Time
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re looking at a screen all day, whether that’s the TV, the computer, or a smartphone. When it comes to internet usage, you can set limits that will not only ensure that your kids aren’t spending too much time online, but also so they can get some rest and have plenty of quality social interaction — without having a nose buried in their phones. Make sure to set a “bed time” for internet use, and don’t let your kids and teens go to bed with a phone, so they avoid late-night texting, too.

Use Internet Activity Monitoring Tools
If you’re concerned about whom you children speak to online, you can use one of the many internet activity monitoring tools available today. You can also use social media monitoring software for parents to watch your child’s activity on sites like Facebook or Twitter. Approximately 73% of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 have profiles on these websites, and 47% regularly post photos online. As a parent, you’ll want to know who is seeing those photos to keep your children safe.

Current estimates state that 93% of teens use the internet, so the need for better communication, strict limits, and social media monitoring is clear. Do you have more questions about keeping your kids safe? Leave a comment below.

Online Safety and Your Kids

protect kids on social mediaIf you’re holding out hope that the Internet is just a fad that will blow over soon, here are some numbers that might bring you back to reality: Almost 94% of teens (ages 12 through 17) go online. Of that same age group, almost three-quarters maintain profiles on one or more social networking sites, almost half have uploaded photos somewhere online, and nearly 15% have uploaded videos.

The bottom line? The Internet users of tomorrow are already using the Internet today. And it’s going to be around a long, long time.

With all this activity online, it’s no wonder parents are scrambling to find the best ways to protect kids on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat (just to name a few). So what’s the best way to keep your kids safe?

Software solutions exist, pitting technology against technology in order to monitor Internet activity and report any behavior that falls outside of the established parameters. Instagram monitoring tools, iPhone monitoring software, and even Internet content filters can, to a certain extent, shield children from many of the dangers of the Internet.

But the best iPhone monitoring software in the world can’t replace good old-fashioned parent-to-child communication. Sitting down and talking to your kids about what kinds of online behavior are okay and what kinds aren’t is a crucial first step in establishing the kind of trust you need to have in this age of instant information. The Internet can be a vastly powerful learning tool for your children — but only if they go about it safely.

If you never let your kids leave the house, they technically lead a safer life. But they’ll also miss out on all the world has to offer. Learning how to protect kids on social media and the Internet in general doesn’t mean shutting out that immense world — it just means learning the safest ways to navigate it, so they can truly get the most out of it.

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