The online world offers a wealth of resources for education, entertainment, and connection with other people. Unfortunately, the internet also poses new dangers, and those dangers threaten teens especially. The following guide provides the resources necessary for both parents and their teens to safely utilize the Internet.
There are plenty of horror stories: one boy discovered that an entire website had been set up to denigrate him and encourage others to harass him at school. Another young woman was abducted by a man who had posed as a teen online, traced her to her home through the personal information she’d given out, and then stalked her to discover when she’d be home alone.
Even the non-horror stories are troubling: one young woman found that an entire suite of social media accounts had been set up to impersonate her online. She wasn’t harmed personally by this crazy scheme, but others are less lucky: half a million teens have had their financial histories blemished from the start due to identity theft. And online scams abound—from prom dresses ordered online that turn out to be cheap knock-offs to software that secretly downloads itself and steers browsers to dangerous corners of the internet.
Online life is as fraught with peril as real life, and it can be much harder for parents to monitor the risks their kids are taking in the virtual world. But as with the other challenges of growing up, getting knowledgeable about internet safety for teens, talking over your concerns with the teens in your life, and arming them against the obvious dangers can build your relationships with them—and prepare them for adulthood.