Children have participated in activities on the Internet more and more frequently in recent years. The purpose is not only about entertaining but also for effective learning, especially for older children – teenagers.
As a nature for all things, the Internet also affects teenagers on both sides, positive and negative. On the positive side, the Internet provides a huge knowledge base for healthy learning and entertainment; provides a wide, instant, and extensive, information-sharing environment.
On the negative side, the Internet is huge garbage of toxic data, information that badly affects teenagers’ perception, physical and psychological health if they are not protected. In the process of growing up, children lack life experience, get easily tricked, not sufficiently aware and are not equipped with network security skills.
Therefore, your teenagers become the most vulnerable targets due to the negative impact of the Internet. The situation of teenagers being attacked by negative impacts of the Internet is happening more frequently, resulting in increasing consequences in the world.
The article will analyze the particular dangers of the Internet for teenagers and suggest ways to help your teens stay safe online.
Dangers of the Internet for teenagers
There are three main types of Internet safety risks for teenagers: content risk, inappropriate behavior risk and the risk of who they are exposed to, here are what you should share with your child:
The risk of inappropriate content
For teenagers, these risks include things they might feel uncomfortable, disgusting, or annoying if they come across accidentally. This content may include pornography, animal cruel images, realistic or simulated violence, accidental, bloody images, harmful user-generated content like sites about drug use, self-harm, suicide or negative body image.
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You teens can also be at risk of being affected by false information, violent movies and games. Those things leave anti-scientific and unethical actions, aggressive behavior or shyness when communicating, etc.
Among these, pornography is the most dangerous. Research shows that most pornography and sex addiction begin in adolescence. Pornography adversely affects brain development, negatively changes the perspective of self-image and encourages attitudes and acts of violence against women.
The risks of inappropriate behavior
Sexting is the sending, receiving or forwarding of pornography or pornographic messages via text message or email.
Sex creates curiosity which often leads to the desire for exploration and experimentation – especially with teenagers. This is not a new thing and it is completely normal. They may be curious about what a naked person looks like and are also easily aroused by nudity.
Peer pressure is also a factor. When they see their friends engaging in sexting, they would feel they are not “enough” when not sending out nude pictures of themselves, they might feel that they need to do so because “everyone else is doing it.“
The consequences are detrimental. When a sext is sent, it is permanent in cyberspace, your child will lose all control over the image. People can share it, copy it or use it to bully them. Your child can be blackmailed later. There have been many cases where the recipient of an image repeatedly threatened to embarrass the sender.
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Your child can be a bully or a victim of cyberbullying. There are types of cyberbullying, but the common one usually happens in teenagers is outing.
Outing is when a bully publicly displays or sends or forwards personal information such as a person’s home address, phone number or other personal data and private information such as photos and video as well as chats such as text messages, emails, or instant messages.
Most of this information is quite sensitive, sexually related, and sharing private, confidential, or embarrassing photos can be devastating and potentially damaging to your child – especially in a world where digital information can be instantly shared with thousands of people.
Your child is impersonating someone else online, your child making unauthorized purchases using someone else’s banking information or using the Internet too much and having trouble adjusting their time online. This can develop into Internet addiction.
The risks of who teens come into contact with
These risks include children who are exposed to people they do not know or with adults posing as teens online. For example, your teen might be persuaded to meet someone they don’t know, at risk of being deceived, taken advantage of, leading to the theft of personal and family information and then it will be used in illegal acts such as impersonating, selling, stealing money in accounts, defamation, etc.
When they access websites, forums, links that seem fun, they accidentally disclose information, allowing hackers to install wiretapping, peeping applications, damage to computer data.
One of these “strangers” is Online Predator – These predators lurk on social media: chat rooms, instant messaging, game platforms that appeal to children – virtual locations where anonymity facilitates “hunting”.
How to help teens stay safe online?
Some Internet safety tips for teens:
- Talk to your teens about what is inappropriate content and what is not.
- Instruct your teens to behave appropriately online when chatting and interacting with friends.
- Install content filtering tools that use the most advanced technology such as AI to hide pornography, self-harm, suicide, bloody, horror content from reaching your teens.
- Stay in touch with your child regularly, watch the apps or games your teens play or the videos your teens watch, this will help you share experiences with them, promote family relationships, and check if the content is appropriate or not.
- Be a role model for your teens
All children – including teenagers – look at their parents’ behavior and imitate, so being a role model for your child is an effective and positive way to guide your child’s behavior when use Internet.You can be a role model for safe and healthy Internet use by using your devices and the internet the way you want your children to use it. For example, you may not be able to use your phone during mealtimes.
- Educate your teens to understand what should post and what should not post. So you need to tell your teens not to disclose personal information such as name, address, phone number or date of birth because attackers will rely on it to chat with your teens, pretending to be friends of their parents or their acquaintances.
- Have your teens let you know if someone they don’t know contact them online or if they feel that something wrong is happening with them on the Internet.
- Keep talking with your children about what’s going on in their daily lives, including the potential Internet threats.
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