The Internet has revolutionized the whole world along with revamping the human lifestyle and introducing new modes of communication, education, and entertainment. Though the rewards of the internet technology are incalculable, it also carries numerous endangerments the teens and tweens are more vulnerable to. Regardless of the fact that the internet can have horrible impacts on adolescents, teens can’t resist loving this technology. The internet obsession makes one in 4 teens to remain online all the time. Almost 24 percent of teens admit going online almost constantly, thanks to their smartphones.
Why Teens Love Being in the Online World?
The internet is more of an entertainment and communication tool for teens than the source of learning and seeking information. Around 93 percent of teens between the age of 12 and 17 avails the internet access and 73 percent of the teens of same age group have a presence on social networking sites. The internet lets the teens connect with their buddies, share their photos and videos, watching movies and downloading their favorite songs, and do almost the entire stuff they want to without the restriction of time and resources.
What are the Potential Online Dangers?
The more teens remain online, the more the odds are of them being exposed to the online dangers such as cyberbullying and online predation. Protecting children from online dangers is the matter of awareness – knowing what the potential dangers are and how these can be tackled. Given are a few menaces children face online.
There is another dangerous trend the teenagers are following and that’s sexting. A survey revealed some alarming statistics about the newest craze among teenagers, sexting. The teen boys and girls share inappropriate photos of themselves with their romantic partners through instant messengers and social media apps. A survey posted by the National Campaign revealed that around 22 percent of teen girls and 18 percent of teen boys have sent nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves and around 37 percent of teen girls and 40 percent of teen boys have sent or posted sexually suggestive messages. Some do this owing to peer pressure while some others do this for the sake of fun. Around 40 percent of teen girls said they sent the sexually suggestive message or image as a joke; 34% said they do this to feel sexy and 12 percent said they felt pressured to do so.
The apps like Snapchat and Telegram oil the wheels of sexting enabling the self-destructive messaging. The text you send through these media apps gets automatically deleted after being viewed by the recipient. This is what encourages the teens to send their nude or semi photos using these platforms. Fortunately or unfortunately, these messages can be stored with the help of screenshots and can later be circulated on the internet.
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to willfully and repeatedly harass, threaten, target and humiliate another person. Specifically, cyberbullying is when someone makes fun of another person online; posts humiliating photos or videos of another person; posts status or negative comments; sends threatening messages and hacks or impersonates another person’s account. Almost 1 in 3 internet users experience cyberbullying being a witness or a survivor. The consistent cyberbullying can have severe impacts than the physical bullying. The victim may have damaged social skills, lower confidence, frustration, depression, and increased suicidal behavior.
The online bullying can have severe impacts on teens as compared to the adults. The teens and tweens can be more emotionally sensitive to bullying since they are growing physically and mentally. Around 20 to 40 percent of adolescents are victims of cyberbullying and an increase is expected in this ratio with the increase in mobile phone and internet use among youngsters.
Online predators are the adults who commit child sexual abuse that takes place on the internet. The chat rooms, social media apps, instant messengers, blogs, internet forums and mobile phones have attracted the cyber predators that use these platforms to find their target. First, they lure their target with flattery, attention, and gifts. When the child gets attached with the predator, they start showing their real face and intentions incorporating sexual stuff into their conversation and sharing explicit videos showing children engaged in sexual activities. They make the kids think that such behavior is normal and acceptable. Once their target loses the consciousness, they sexually exploit them. If the teen tries to cut off communication with the predator, they blackmail them emotionally or threat them to expose their earlier activities in front of their parents.
A study from the American Psychological Association found horrible results regarding the online predators and teens. In the past, the cyber predators used to pose as a teen to make their target think that he/she is talking to someone of his/her age. Nowadays, the predators do not hide their identities and even intentions. Teenagers knowingly chat to adults and openly express their sexual desires. Isn’t it Scary?
The internet is loaded with the objectionable content that you would never want your kids to expose to. The explicit and porn stuff has become acceptable to some extent and easily and freely accessible, credit goes to the internet. Around 40 million Americans visit porn sites on regular basis and 200,000 Americans are the porn addict. In one second, around 30 thousand internet users watch objectionable content. The kids with unsupervised internet access can intentionally or accidentally expose to explicit material on the internet with a simple click. More than 34 percent of internet users get directed to porn sites through web ads or infectious emails and links. Frequent exposure to porn can lower down teens’ self-esteem and causes depression, anxiety, and several health issues.
Every teen dream to be the internet sensation for which they know they would have to do something extraordinary. They don’t bother suffering injuries and losing their lives doing thrilling and daring things for the sake of popularity among their peers. The self-harm activities are trending on the internet and its latest and worst example is Blue Whale Challenge which induces participant to carve their bodies and take their lives. There are several dangerous communities and websites that support self-harm activities such as drug use and other troublemaking ideas. The emotionally imbalanced youngsters are more vulnerable online and are more likely to commit unsafe and violent activities online.
How to Protect Teens from Online Dangers?
Parents can influence the behavior and attitude of their children in two ways: through guidance or digital monitoring. Let your kids know the potential risks of the internet and social media before they enter into the digital world. Early education helps teens to make responsible decisions on how to use the internet and its advantages.
Talk, Listen and Ask
Knowing what is going on in your children’s lives is not as difficult if you share a strong bond with them. The more you talk to your kids and listen to them, the more you will gain their trust. Always listen to your kids’ issue and be available for them to help them deal with their problems. The communication plays a key role in building parent-kid bonding and makes teens feel comfortable sharing their issues with parents including those they face online.
Discuss Internet Safety
Get your kids learn using the internet safely and securely. Educate them what type of threats they can face online such as bullying and child molestation. Tell them how the predators and catfishers lure youngsters online and exploit them later. Make sure your kids utilize the social media privacies and know the risks attached with disclosing private information on these platforms.
The widespread adoption of digital technologies by the youngsters has challenged the parenthood. Despite the enormous benefits, the digital connectivity poses potential risks for the adolescents the parents are responsible to protect from. Parents today report multiple ways to monitor and influence the digital behavior of their kids, from checking out what their teens post on social media to blocking the age-inappropriate websites and apps. Digital monitoring has become inevitable as it helps parents supervise the online and offline activities of their kids to ensure their safety.
TheOneSpy helps parents monitor the digital activities of their kids on mobile phones, tablets, and computers. You can read the chats of your teens and listen to their calls to detect whether or not they are in contact with an online predator; receiving threatening messages or sexts from someone. Meanwhile, the parental control app lets you monitor and control the internet, social media and mobile phone use of your teens to safeguard them from the cruelties of the adult world.
The Bottom Line
The internet carries both perks and perils for the teenagers but the unsupervised and uncontrolled internet access do more harm than good. Educate your teens about the responsible and secure use of the internet so they could make wise decisions when needed. Meanwhile, monitor digital behavior with parental control software to never leave the dangers overlooked.