6 Tips for Teen Safety
Spoiler alert: Having a good relationship with your teens is key!
This year we faced a gauntlet of challenges to our family safety and well-being. Bringing up teens in the rapidly changing world of 2020 only ramped up those challenges. So, we gathered a group of experts to talk about their best tactics, ideas, and digital tools to keep tabs on, track or monitor your teens (13-17) safety and well-being, without being too intrusive on their burgeoning desire for “freedom”.
1) Keep Your Data Safe
Any teen would die of embarrassment if Mom read their message
Privacy Expert, Heinrich Long, of the site, restoreprivacy.com, says, “Probably the most common thing I’m asked about is keeping teens safe online and making sure they don’t volunteer their data to some creep online. I get it, it’s tricky. You can’t monitor them as closely as you can kids, but they’re still silly and they’re prone to making bad decisions. If you’re comfortable using what is essentially spyware, then there are a variety of tools that can be very helpful to you. You can gain access to their location, to their web search history, to their messages, etc.
II wouldn’t necessary recommend going for this one from the get-go, because it is rather invasive. Any kid would be mortified if they knew their parents read their personal messages or saw their search history.
There’s also the option of discussing any tracking apps you do decide to use with your teens. Some families have successful conversations about the need for tracking for safety reasons. I know families who all have GPS tracking turned on, so everyone always knows exactly where everyone else is should something happen. In some ways, that could be less invasive. When it’s getting late and your teen hasn’t returned home, you check your phone and see that they’re just safely at their best friend’s place, probably playing video games. They’re not in some bar, and nothing bad has happened to them, so there’s no need to call them every 5 minutes.”
How Bond Can Help Keep Your Teens Safe
2) Protect, Inform and Empower Your Teens
Mom Adi Donna, the founder of Cozy Down Home, recommends using safety software to empower your teens, rather than restrict them.
A”As a Mom who’s kids are very much into social media activities, it’s tough to keep the kids away from using the phone and stopping them from browsing the internet. You can set up parental controls on their devices so that they cannot browse anything which is not meant for them. However, I feel like those restrictions will not work for the older teens as they might know how to drop all those filters that restrict them from browsing various content and games that might contain [adult themes]. I would recommend the following ways to keep the tab on your teens:
A. Install Surveillance Software in their Phone
The surveillance software is the next level of protection on your kids digital devices to protect, inform and empower them instead of spying them 24/7. The software makes sure that your kids are safe as it acts as the best filter that blocks almost every category that includes pornography, gambling, drugs, violence, hate, racism, malware, and phishing. I would recommend K9 Web Protection, Net Nanny, Safe Eyes, and SafetyWeb as the best paid and unpaid surveillance software.
B. Kaspersky — the Best Parental Control App
I have been using Kaspersky for years and every kid while they are watching shows on the phone for entertainment. The app delivers a lot, even at a low price. With the premium features of the app, I have the liberty to control over 100+ phone devices. It is best for use for any size of the family. The app helps to block adult websites and ads coming on your Android devices. For iOS devices, Kaspersky has a separate app called Kaspersky Safe Kids app.”
3) Maintain Good Visibility of Tech and Do Things Together
Medical doctor, mother and entrepreneur, Andrea Paul, the Founder & CEO of Health Media Experts believes spending time with your teens will keep them informed and empowered. Her company, Health Media Experts, is a team of medical and health care experts who have led the marketing efforts of major health care brands, but it’s her experience as a mother that informs her suggestions here.
A) Good Visibility of Tech Products to Parents
Computers, tablets, or smartphones should be placed in areas where you can easily monitor their activity. Screen time should be assigned, and teens must follow it. Ask your children to stay away from meeting strangers online, no matter whether it’s an email or a friend request on Facebook.
B) Doing Things Together
In order to remove the gaps and improve communication lines, you need to spend time with your teen. Choose things your teen loves to do such as hiking, playing video games or shopping. Do it for them. You are not only going to remove the communication barriers but also have an opportunity to improve things that shape the mindset of your teen.”
Dr. Paul is a physician-turned-entrepreneur who has started, grown and sold health care companies, including a digital health company that grew from zero to #251 on the Inc. 500 list in just 4 years.
4) Talk to Your Teen
David Bakke, Dad and Self-Proclaimed Internet Safety Expert for my teen at National Air Warehouse, believes in working through teen safety issues directly:
- Have the conversation.
- Go over the basics.
- Absolutely connect on Social Media.
“As a parent of a teen-aged son, this issue is present and important.
Here’s what I’ve done so far.
First, have the conversation, and believe me, this won’t be easy. If your experience is anything like mine, your teen thinks they know the Internet better than you do, they can navigate it better, and they can steer clear of trouble more effectively than you. While one of those opinions may be true, all of them are not. Talk about Internet use. Where does your teen go? What do they do? What do they see? It’s the answers to these questions and more that will lead to a productive and honest conversation. Second, go over the basics. Don’t charge any personal information (even the names of pets as crazy as that might sound), steer clear of public Wi-Fi hotspots, and delete all suspicious emails without opening any links. Since your teen is probably definitely involved in social media, friend them. But do so in a respective fashion. Have another conversation to let them know you’re not spying, but just bringing prudent. Hopefully, you can get through that conversation okay.”
5) Teen Therapist Recommends: Keep teens safe with connected relationships
Cory Anderson, the owner of the Teen Counseling Center of San Diego, recommends respectful communication.
“Parents often come to us for help keeping their teens safe online. We do recommend filtering software and best practices like keeping the family computer in a community area. However, the best way to keep kids safe is to build connected relationships that are based on open, respectful communication. Parents should start talk to their kids early and often about the potential dangers online. That way, when a teen is exposed to something that makes them feel unsafe, they are empowered to do something about it.
Ideally, they are comfortable going to their parents for input and support.” For more detailed suggestions, visit teencounselingsd.
6) Three Teenagers: My Tried and True Methods
SSabrina Hamilton, mom of three and the creator of the personal finance website, Finance Over Fifty, who so far successfully raised two teenagers and is on “my third,” suggests the following hard-earned field-tested methods.
“We currently have one child left at home. He’s 15 and goes to public
school. We use the same methods and tools with him as we did with our older two kids.
We do not allow desktop or laptop computers in his bedroom. Our one desktop computer is in a shared space and is password-protected. We also have a filter on our Wifi network that blocks inappropriate content.
We use an app called Net Nanny for his cell phone. This app blocks
inappropriate content, has a GPS, and has the capability of limiting time on the phone. We can also see what searches he has made on Google.
We also use iPhone’s Screen Time to approve any apps he wants to download on his phone.
But, I believe the most effective strategy to keeping our kids safe is
open, consistent, and clear communication. Building a relationship with your teens to develop trust and honesty is imperative to helping them navigate the influences and pressures that surround them every day.”
Enjoy Bond. Stay safe. Keep the comments and recommendations coming,
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