Guidelines for Parents of Teens

Talk with your Teens About What They Can and Cannot Do Online

Be reasonable and set reasonable expectations. Try to understand their needs, interests, and curiosity. Remember what it was like when you were their age.

Be Open with Your Teens and Encourage Them to Come to You if They Encounter a Problem Online

if they tell you about someone or something they encountered, your first response should not be to blame them or take away their Internet privileges. Work with them to help avoid problems in the future, and remember – you respond will determine whether they confide you the next time they encounter a problem and they learn to deal with problems on their own.

Learn Everything You Can About the Internet

Ask your teens to show you what’s cool. Have them show you great places for teens and fill you in on areas that you might benefit from as well. Make “surfing the net” a family experience. Use it to plan a vacation, pick out a movie, or check out other family activities. Make this one area where you get to be the student and your child gets to be the teacher.

Check Out Blocking, Filtering and Ratings Applications

As you may know, there are now services that rate web sites for content as well as filtering programs and browsers that empower parents to block the types of sites they consider to be inappropriate. These programs work in different ways. Some block sites known to contain objectionable material. Some prevent users from entering certain types of information such as their name and address. Other programs keep your children away from chatrooms or restrict their ability to send or read E-mail. Generally these programs can be configured by the parent to only block the types of sites that the parent considers to be objectionable.

Whether or not it is appropriate to use one of these programs is a personal decision. If you do use such a program, you’ll probably need to explain to your teen why you feel it is necessary. You should also be careful to choose a program with criteria that reflects your family’s values. Be sure to configure it so that it doesn’t block sites that you want your teen to be able to visit.

It is important to realize that filtering programs cannot protect your child from all dangers in cyberspace. To begin with, no program can possibly block out every inappropriate site. What’s more, it’s possible, in some cases, for the programs to block sites that are appropriate. If you use a filtering program, you should re-evaluate it periodically to make sure it’s working for your family.

Regardless of whether you use a filtering program, you should still be sure that your teen follows all of the basic rules listed in this brochure. Filtering programs are not a substitute for good judgment or critical thinking. With or without filters, children and their parents need to be “net savvy” and communicate with each other

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