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The Smart Parent Guide to Digital Literacy

If you are the parent of a child or teen who uses the internet, here are some stats you need to know:

Stats About Teens and the Internet

  • Teens think that the internet is mostly private
  • They also think that they can make the best decisions for their life online
  • They believe they are safe online and that people are who they say they are
  • They don’t feel at risk if “friending” perfect strangers
  • They feel like since they are probably better at understanding technology, they can make better decisions than their parents about what’s best practice for online behavior

These are obviously naïve views of the digital world and if parents don’t fully explain why these views aren’t just wrong, but dangerous, then the parent is setting up their child for failure.

Make sure that you are keeping the lines of communication open with your kids about their internet use. Explain the risks involved and share stories of other teens who have found trouble online.

Internet Rules that Parents Should Consider

It is recommended by experts that parents set up rules for their kids in regards to internet use. Here are some:

  • Know every password that your kid has and use those passwords to check on their accounts.
  • Don’t let kids use social media, text friends, or chat online until they are in 9th or 10th grade, and never let kids use apps or sites that allow for anonymous communication.
  • There is NO reason why your 13 year old needs to be head deep in Snapchat or TikTok. NONE. Nothing good will come from it.
  • Give your kids a time limit for internet use
  • Don’t allow your kids to respond to messages from strangers, and never “friend” strangers.
  • Never give out any personal information, such as address or phone number, online.
  • Always be respectful and kind to others online; bullying should NEVER be allowed.
  • Do not allow your children to know your passwords.
  • Do not allow kids to use have access to their devices at all times. Have family time with no screens. i.e. game night, a walk to the local park, etc.
  • No phones in the bedroom. Buy laptops, not desktops. Laptops shouldn’t be allowed in the bedroom after homework is done.
  • No photos should be posted to an internet site without permission of parents.
  • Always check text messages, chat logs, or any other communication online, and make sure that kids understand that there will be consequences if they delete the messages.
  • Don’t allow kids to download any apps or software without your permission.

Don’t Make These Mistakes

  • Don’t give your child a traditional smart phone before 9th You can give them a feature-phone, that you have full access to, however.
  • Don’t give your child internet access that is unmonitored.
  • Don’t allow your kids to use the internet in closed rooms or in areas where you can’t see what they are doing.
  • Don’t allow them to play online games where chat is enabled, as these are common targets for sexual predators.

Just because other families are breaking most of these rules, doesn’t mean your family needs to. Don’t be cattle or sheep. Lead by example.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity Protection security awareness training program.

Teen Tragic Love: Lesson for Parents?

This story is kinda dark. Recently the ID Channel ran an episode called “Forbidden: Dying for Love — Together Forever, Forever Together.”

The 19-year-old was Tony Holt. Let’s call his 15-year-old girlfriend Kristen.

Kristen, 14, Falls Hard for Tony, 18

She met him when he was working at a grocery store. But he also happened to be a senior at her new high school. Prior to meeting him, Kristen knew her mother wouldn’t allow dating till she was 16.

Kristen’s mother eventually learned of the secret relationship and forbad it. The girl and Tony kept seeing each other on the sly. Mama learned of this and again, forbad it. Kristen then pretended the relationship was over and even talked of how she now hated Tony. Her mother was thrilled.

Meanwhile the teens kept sneaking around.

Forbidden love can be funner! Anyway, Mama found out again, stormed into the grocery store and angrily announced to Tony that if he ever went near her daughter again, she’d have him arrested for statutory rape. Which, is in fact statutory rape in many states.

The threat had him really scared about going to prison. He appeared at Mama’s house soon after and apologized for upsetting her and said that he and Kristen were going to cool it and just be friends.

But they continued seeing each other, and Mama discovered photos in Kristen’s bedroom of the two making out. More furious than ever, she forbad any contact. (Kristen’s father was out of the picture.)

Not long after, she got a call at work to come to the house. The police were there. Tony and Kristen were both dead from a gunshot wound to their heads.

A suicide note left by Kristen explained that the only way they could be together was to die and go to heaven where they could live happily ever after. Kristen had also left a suicide message on the answering machine, apologizing for the suicide pact. I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming. Neither did I.

Questions to Wonder About

  • Why didn’t the teens decide to just avoid sex for three years, after which they could then marry and have up to 70 years of glory together? Abstinence is hardly an extreme move when you pit it against a murder-suicide.
  • What if Kristen’s mother permitted the relationship and even had Tony over every week for dinner? But what if, at the same time, she expressed her disapproval over their sexual relations?
  • What if she had said, “If you get pregnant, you’ll be grounded – by your baby. I won’t report statutory rape, but I also won’t help you out with the baby, either.”

That last warning may sound harsh, but it’s a crapshoot type of warning: It just might work.

Lessons Learned

  • You can’t stop two love-struck teens from seeing each other, so you may as well be civil to the unapproved young man.
  • While it’s important to stand your ground as a parent, there also comes a time when a sweet spot needs to be figured out. After all, not only might there be a suicide pact, but there are quite a few documentaries in which the forbidden young man murdered his girlfriend’s disapproving parents.
  • It’s never too early to teach your children the virtues of delayed gratification.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.