If you are a parent of a teenager, it’s likely the internet is part of their daily life. Young people easily adapt to new technology and use it to communicate, socialise and create content. Most teenagers have access to the internet using a smartphone or tablet and use a wide range of social networking sites.

Keep the communication channels open

Always talk and try to be interested in everything your child is involved in. Don’t be afraid to bring up challenging issues like cyberbullying, sexting and pornography. It will of course feel embarrassing, but you’ll both benefit from these subjects being out in the open.

Make sure they keep their information private

Privacy settings can be set on most social networking sites so that only their closest friends can search for them, tag them in a photograph or share what they’ve posted. This really is the very best thing all young people can do for their safety.

Staying safe when out and about

Use safe settings on all mobile devices but be aware that if your child is accessing the internet using public WiFi, filters to block inappropriate content may not be active. Some high street chains, like McDonald’s, are part of family friendly WiFi schemes so look out for MumsNet Family Friendly WiFi and RDI Friendly WiFi symbols when you’re out and about.

Encourage responsibility

Teach them to always have respect for themselves and others online. Talk to your teenager about being responsible when they’re online. Children often feel they can say things online that they wouldn’t say face-to-face. Talk about the importance of online reputation.

Let them know that anything they upload, email or message is likely to stay online forever. Remind them they should only do things online that they wouldn’t mind you, their teacher or a future employer seeing. Get them to think about creating a positive digital footprint - it’s never too early!

Adjust controls

Discuss with them adjusting your parental controls to match your teenager’s level of maturity. Have a chat about it first – don’t turn them off completely without careful consideration and discussion.

Show you trust them

If you can afford to, give them a small allowance that they can use for spending online so they can download apps, music and films for themselves, from places you agree together.

Encourage them to never give in to peer pressure

Remind them how important it is, to never give in to peer pressure and send inappropriate comments or images. Point them to the Send This and Zipit apps which will help them deal with these types of requests.

Always remember that the following can affect a teenager online at any time: Cyberbullying, online grooming, inappropriate content, online pornography and online reputation.

Need Advice?

In the event that you need any additional advice from MidKent College regarding the safety of your children in College, let us know your concerns or visit our parent and carer page for more information.