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Online Safety Tips and How to Discuss Them with Your Teenagers

As summer days start to fade, the excitement of a new school year kicks in. But along with new notebooks and backpacks, it's crucial to prepare your teenagers for the digital world they'll navigate as they head back to school. At Calgary Lock & Safe, we're passionate about helping you keeping your loved ones safe, which is why we've put together a list of online safety tips and strategies on how to broach these essential conversations with your teens.

1. Secure Passwords

Encourage your teens to create strong, unique passwords for each online account. Passwords are the keys to their digital world, and a strong one can keep their information safe from prying eyes.

How to talk about it:

  • Share a personal story about a time when you had a security breach due to a weak or old password.

  • Suggest using a passphrase made up of random words, numbers, and symbols.

  • Recommend a trusted password manager to help them keep track of their credentials securely.

2. Privacy Settings Matter

Privacy settings on social media profiles and apps allow your teens to control who can access their information. It's like having a digital fence around their personal space.

How to talk about it:

  • Show them how to adjust privacy settings on their favorite apps and social media platforms.

  • Emphasize the importance of reviewing these settings periodically.

  • Encourage them to keep their profiles private, especially to avoid unwanted contact from strangers.

3. Tricky People (Stranger Danger) Online

Discuss the concept of "tricky people" or "stranger danger" in the digital world. Your teens should never accept friend requests or engage in conversations with people they don't know in real life.

How to talk about it:

  • Share real-life stories of online encounters gone wrong to illustrate the risks.

  • Make it clear that their online contacts should be people they trust in the real world.

  • Let them know they can always come to you if they have any concerns about someone online.

4. Cyberbullying Awareness

Cyberbullying is a real issue, and it's vital your teens understand what it is and how to recognize and report it.

How to talk about it:

  • Ask if they've ever witnessed or experienced cyberbullying.

  • Explain the impact of cyberbullying on mental health.

  • Encourage them to report any bullying they encounter or witness online, and assure them they won't be punished for doing so.

5. Mindful Sharing

Remind your teens to think before they share. Once something is posted online, it's challenging to control who sees it.

How to talk about it:

  • Share examples of the potential consequences of oversharing, such as future employers or college admissions officers seeing inappropriate content.

  • Teach them that they should only post what they'd be comfortable sharing with their grandparents.

  • Encourage them to respect others' privacy by not sharing photos or personal information without permission.

6. Online Etiquette

Digital etiquette is as important as real-world manners. Teach your teens to be respectful, avoid spreading rumors, and never engage in hurtful comments or behaviors online.

How to talk about it:

  • Discuss what good online behavior looks like and the impact of being unkind online.

  • Share the golden rule: treat others as you'd like to be treated.

  • Remind them that kindness online can make the internet a better place for everyone.

7. Limit Screen Time

Encourage a healthy balance between online and offline activities. Set screen time limits and emphasize the importance of physical activity and face-to-face interactions.

How to talk about it:

  • Create a family agreement on screen time limits that everyone can agree upon.

  • Suggest outdoor activities or hobbies your teens can enjoy away from screens.

  • Lead by example and limit your own screen time to show that it's a family effort.

8. Critical Thinking Online

Help your teens develop critical thinking skills to question the accuracy of information they encounter online and identify credible sources.

How to talk about it:

  • Share examples of fake news and misinformation, and discuss how to spot them.

  • Encourage them to fact-check information before accepting it as true.

  • Teach them the value of diverse perspectives and the importance of respectful online debates.

9.Stay Informed About Online Trends

As a parent, it's essential to stay up-to-date with the latest online trends and apps your children may be using.

How to talk about it:

  • Show curiosity about their online interests and ask about the platforms they frequent.

  • Do your research to understand the apps and websites they use.

  • Maintain a non-judgmental stance, so they feel comfortable sharing their online experiences.

10. Be a Positive Online Role Model

Your teens are more likely to adopt responsible online behaviors if they see you model good digital citizenship.

How to talk about it:

  • Explain how you handle online interactions and disagreements respectfully.

  • Share your experiences of being cautious and respectful online.

  • Highlight the importance of empathy and understanding in online communication.

11. Reinforce Empathy Online

Teach your teens the importance of empathy and kindness online. Encourage them to report any online bullying or harassment they witness.

How to talk about it:

  • Discuss the emotional impact of unkind words and actions online.

  • Share stories of online communities coming together to support one another.

  • Emphasize that reporting negative behavior is a way to protect their online community.

12. Stay Involved in Their Online Activities

Continue to be involved in your teens' online activities as they grow, even if it means having periodic discussions about online safety.

How to talk about it:

  • Keep the lines of communication open and let them know you're there to support them.

  • Show interest in their online hobbies and ask about their online friends.

  • Reiterate that you're a resource they can turn to if they encounter any issues online.

As you gear up for the back-to-school season, remember that discussions about online safety should be ongoing. Encourage your teenagers to be #RelentlessLearners, and you can empower them to embrace technology responsibly while keeping them safe. By approaching these conversations with empathy and understanding, you're not just protecting them in the digital world; you're nurturing their growth into responsible and confident digital citizens.

So, here's to a safe and successful back-to-school season for your family. Keep those conversations alive, and may your teenagers thrive as relentless learners in this ever-evolving digital landscape!

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