The Most Important Online Safety Tips for TeensJennifer Martinez
The Internet is a great way for your teens to express themselves. Think about it: They meet with their friends and make new ones by chatting and posting information about themselves on social networking sites. They check out the latest styles and shop online. They send their friends pictures, music and videos via IM, email or web site links.
You might sleep better knowing your teenagers are hanging out with their friends inside the house rather than on the streets and at the mall, but there are risks on the Internet, too.
Fortunately, you can reduce online safety risks by staying open to what your teens enjoy about the Internet, helping them explore the web safely, and making sure they know they can come to you if they feel threatened or encounter any sort of problem online.
Here are three important tips to follow yourself and to share with your teens about how to stay protected online:
No. 1: Be careful what you download and share
Let your teens know not to download unauthorized copies of copyrighted music from a file-sharing network, share copyrighted music using instant messaging (IM), email or by handing out or uploading CDs. If you use a file-sharing program, be sure to turn it on only to update files. Set passwords for access to your shared folders to protect yourself from other computer users who might find an unprotected folder to be a convenient dumping ground for their files.
No. 2: Don't give away the store
Shopping online saves hours of schlepping your kids around town. Even if they drive, they can find the shoes, books and games they want online no matter where you live. And just as your teens would take precautions in a brick and mortar store -- like leaving their wallet open on the table with sale jeans and then walking away -- they need to practice common sense online. When shopping online, remind your teens that before submitting credit card numbers or other confidential information over the Internet through a connection that appears secure, they should confirm the authenticity of the web site URL. They should also pay attention to the advised delivery date. Sites that promise delivery dates further than 20 days after your payment involve more risk. Another tip for parents: Install a good Internet security program with parental controls that can help block inappropriate web sites and prevent your teens from giving out personal information without your permission.
No. 3: Play games safely
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