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Teens, Parents, and the Wild Wild Web

Monday, 01 November 2010 10:27 in Blogs, Features by Cati Grant

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Are there modern day outlaws and bandits after you? Yes, it’s true the Wild West has been replaced with the Wild Web! There are Pros as well as Cons to the “Wild Web” but how do we figure out what they are and how they weigh in?

We seem to hear and read almost every day about dangers on the Internet. Hardly a week seems to go by without some horrific headline story. Sadly, most of it is true, so some advice on Internet safety is needed but the question is how, and where do we start?

For me, figuring out the Pros and Cons is a good place to start and this should be a joint responsibility between teens and parents. As a teen I know I sometimes think my mother can be a little over-protective, but I do know that she does what she does because she loves me and, most of all, wants me to be safe. Keep that in mind especially when trying to figure out your Pros and Cons.

Why not make two personalized lists on Internet Pros and Cons of the internet: one for you and have your parent make one as well. Share these lists with each other and see what the difference are and why that might be. If nothing else it will get you and your parents discussing the subject of Internet safety from both sides.

Here is a list of some general pros and cons for the internet, from parentingteens.com:

Pros Cons
Resources Invasion of privacy
Connections Risk of Identity Theft
Convenience Risk of Financial Fraud
Experience Exposure to Inappropriate Material
Bullying
Sexual Harassment (Online Predators)

There are valuable tips that will help you know what to do in case there is an incident on the internet. My Do’s and Don’ts come from an article called ‘Internet Safety for Parents and Teens’.

  • You have a right to keep your information private. Safety comes first. Just because someone asks you, you don’t have to do it! Be yourself!
  • Report any form of Harassment or Bullying that you encounter online! Save usernames or screen-names as well as the messages from the incident.
  • ALWAYS have a spyware device on your computer.
  • Have an internet contract with your parents, for how long you can be on the internet. Check in with your parents about what you are doing.

This last point may sound super annoying but it is to your advantage. Don’t think other teens don’t do it, they do! A recent survey called ‘The Kids are Alright’ found:

  • 72 percent of parents surveyed monitor their teens’ accounts, with 50 percent of these monitoring weekly, 35 percent daily and 10 percent monthly
  • 84 percent of parents generally have a good understanding of the activities their teens are engaged in online

Even if you think you would never accept someone you don’t know, you may not know you’re doing it! The survey also found that 68 percent of teens surveyed have, at some time, accepted friend invites from people they don’t know, with 8 percent accepting all, 34 percent accepting some, and 26 percent accepting rarely.

It is worth spending some time thinking about the wild side of the web. Using the Internet is not meant to put you in danger!

Welcome to the second feature in our series called: "A Teen Talks Cyber Security".

Cati Grant

In a new regular blog series Cati Grant will tackle the subject of cyber security from, and for, the eyes of a teenager.

Despite her young age, Cati is an experienced campaigner against cyberbullying. Cati set up her own website Cati Cares, on her 15th birthday to inform teenagers about Internet Security. Herself a victim of cyberbullying, Cati related her experiences to HostExploit for a posting on National Blue Shirt Day (October 4th). Later that day, Cati appeared on the Dr. Phil TV program to recount her harrowing experiences as a victim of cyberbullying.

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