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Is your teenager really safe online?

Like their counterparts around the world, Sri Lankan teenagers spend hours online on various social media platforms. Teenagers’ online usage habits have become a bone of contention with their parents, who naturally worry about their teenager’s safety online. Online safety is an important conversation that you can have with your teenage kids, where both parents and teenagers have roles to play.

For parents, it’s a good idea to set limits for teenagers on how much time they can spend online – not least because there’s a lot of good fun activity that’s important to their development, like sports, music, and play. But even with their online limits agreed, you still have to be sure that it’s time spent well and that they view content that’s interesting, engaging, and most importantly, safe. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your teenager’s online experiences are positive ones and to help you have that conversation:

Be realistic: Acknowledging that sometimes teenagers might come across inappropriate content by accident will make them feel comfortable bringing it to your attention.

Make a deal: Find the right time to deliver your advice and set your ground rules. The day your teenager gets their first phone or tablet can be the day you draw up some easy-to-follow guidelines for online activity that you can stick by.

It’s your responsibility: It’s your parental responsibility to protect them wherever they are, and that includes their online presence. When old enough, make sure a parent is friends with them or follows them on other social media. You may face resistance, but make it one of the conditions for allowing them access.

Be consistent: Try and follow the same rules. That might mean no devices at the breakfast or dinner table or no texting after a certain hour. Or at least explain why some of the rules are different for adults.

Start early: Teenagers are growing up in an online world. Take the time to introduce them to privacy and security protocols so that from an early age they know what’s safe and what’s not.

Keep a hand on the controls: Teenagers are curious by nature and will start to explore as they get older. Parental controls can be installed on phones, tablets, and laptops, as well as your broadband connection. They can block or filter content but also control how much time is spent online.

Set boundaries: Let teenagers know the time they can spend online and the websites, apps, and activities they can engage with. Boundaries should cover behavior when gaming, chatting, or messaging. “Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in person” is a basic rule. It can be useful to remind teens that potential employers and colleges often check social media profiles, and online content can be hard to remove.

Be positive: The internet is an amazing resource for education and learning. Encourage your teenagers to show you the websites they like and what they do there.

Parents need not feel helpless anymore with the Facebook Parents Portal which answers some pertinent questions they may have about how their teenagers can have a safe and enjoyable online experience. The portal proves to be a useful resource for parents to have a successful conversation with their teenagers about online safety.

Issued by MSL Sri Lanka, on behalf of Facebook.