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Talking With Teens About Online Safety: Talk With Your Teen

  • Talk with teens about their online activities. What sites or blogs do they most enjoy? With whom do they interact? Making the online world part of everyday conversation makes it more likely that teens will talk to you if issues come up online for which they need your help. You’ll also have a chance to probe to learn if there are reasons to be concerned.
  • Learn more about what your teen is doing online. Teens use social networking sites, instant messaging, and text messages to connect with friends, and they use a variety of websites for homework or to explore personal interests. At the same time, they may be accessing (either accidentally or on purpose) inappropriate content such as violent online games, sexually explicit sites, online gambling, R-rated movies, and explicit music. In addition, teens may be visiting sites that promote unhealthy behaviors, such as pro-anorexia sites. Asking explicit, non-judgmental questions about what your teen is finding online can help to identify areas where you might be concerned so that you can respond appropriately.
  • Talk about what to post—and not post—online. In addition to discussing the importance of not sharing private information (such as age, location, school, and phone number), talk about the kind of information, language, and images they might post that could be embarrassing or hurtful to themselves or to others.
  • Address ethical and legal issues. The Internet can sometimes make it easy to blur the lines about honesty and integrity. It’s easy to plagiarize (use someone else’s writing or ideas as your own) or to download or share pirated music, videos, and computer programs through file-sharing sites. In addition to the ethical issues, some of these activities can catch the attention of the rightful copyright holders, with serious consequences.

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Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on July 2, 2019