The internet is an important and natural part of modern teenagers’ lives. This means that as a parent, it’s crucial that you understand how and what they use it for and discuss these topics with your teen.
Teenagers spend a large portion of their day connected to the web. They use it for socializing, entertainment, and finding information.
The internet is a massive source of knowledge. “Today’s children grow up with it and will continue to use it throughout their lives,” says Mikael Albrecht, alumnus security specialist at F-Secure Labs. Mikael occasionally meets parents who are anxious about their children growing up with technology that they themselves do not always understand. They’re worried that their children will become addicted to online activities, such as gaming and social media, and in doing so, will miss out on outdoor activities and face-to-face interactions with their peers. Parents also worry that the games their children play online contain violent content that is harmful to their development.
“These are real issues that affect children. It’s helpful to talk to the parents of your child’s friends about common rules about appropriate content or screen time limits,” says Albrecht.
Another issue that comes up frequently is hate speech and cyberbullying.
In relation to the topic, Albrecht provides parents with guidance. “Cyberbullying has been around for a long time. It’s not surprising that bullying can be found all over the web, even in forums, instant messages and in-game chat rooms. The problem is not so much the internet as it is the bullying itself. We should confront it — denying access to the web is not a solution. As a parent, you need to be a part of your child’s activities. This way you can catch these issues on the fly.”
The most important thing is to talk to your teenager about the internet. Discuss how to deal with personal attacks, trolls and other problems that arise when your teen is online. Also, discuss what rights and responsibilities they have when they use the web. Teach your children to be respectful when sitting behind a keyboard.
“I believe that communication and participation are the keys to making sure that your teenager has a healthy relationship with the internet,” Albrecht concludes.
Follow Mikael on Twitter @micke_fi.