If you are the parent of a teen, then you know that your child can be pretty private about how they spend their time online. Teens are exposed to a lot of dangerous content that we, as parents, cannot always monitor and control. Such content can include the promotion of drug use and drug abuse, among other risky behaviors. However, there are things you can do to feel confident in your ability to keep your kids safe online, while still embracing – and encouraging your child to embrace – the good things the Internet has to offer.
So, what can you do as a parent? Great question. Here are some steps you can take to stay in the know about your teen’s online habits:
- Be aware of your where your teen is spending their time online. Get to know where your teen is most active on social media, what they are talking about online and how much time they spend on the Internet. This doesn't mean that you have to have to approve every post your teen publishes. And you don’t have to sit with your teen as she or he use the Internet. Just check-in every once in a while to see what sites your teen is visiting and how much time he or she is spending online.
- Be honest and set expectations. Tell your teen that you’re checking in on them online. Once he or she is aware that you are keeping tabs for safety reasons, your teen might be less likely to visit dangerous sites, or post risky content online. Additionally, this gives you an opportunity to be open and transparent about what you consider safe – and dangerous – Internet usage.
- Join your teen online. Even though it might be a difficult conversation to have, start a dialogue with your teen about risky teen behaviors, like medicine abuse. Use this opportunity to visit websites like WhatIsDXM.com, drugfree.org and, of course, StopMedicineAbuse.org with your teen. Together, look through videos and images that explain the dangers of medicine abuse. This way, teens are exposed to graphic, credible information. Then, talk with your teen about what they are seeing on these sites and how they feel about it. After all, teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs. And, if your teen has questions that you cannot answer, check out this page with parent resources or speak with a parent specialist by calling 1-855-DRUGFREE.
- Applaud good online behavior. When teens use the Internet properly, let them know! Validation from you will help your teen stay on track and continue to behave safely online.
Is there any advice you would like to add to the list above? What are some ways you have talked with your teen about online safety?