The internet has revolutionized how we do things but it can be a dangerous neighborhood, particularly for children and teens. There seems to be a never-ending list of online dangers for teens including online predators, improper social media use and even cyberbullying.

The best weapons against these dangers are awareness and communication. You need to be aware of the sort of hazards your teen is likely exposed to on the internet and how they can keep themselves safe and educate your teen on the same.

Some of the common dangers teens are likely to face online include:

1. Inappropriate social media posts.

Teens often get caught up in the excitement of social media and rarely do they stop to think about the consequences of their posts. Your teen might not understand how that inappropriate photo, video or social media post might impact their future lives.

2. Cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying takes different forms e.g. deliberately excluding someone from chats, taunting or teasing someone or even spreading malicious rumors about individuals. Again, the best way to deal with this is to talk with your teen and explain how they should < a href="">cope with cyberbullying should they become victims.

3. Online predators.

The internet is fertile ground for sexual and other online predators who thrive on stalking teens. Some of these prefer to befriend teens, take advantage of their naiveté and ultimately lure them into dangerous personal encounters. Others might convince them to send over inappropriate photos or personal information. Explain this danger to your teenager and always be aware of their social media activities as well as what’s going on in their lives.

4. Posting personal information publicly.

Your teen might not understand the need for social boundaries and privacy online and may end up posting certain private information on their social media pages e.g. their home address or their location. This, of course, predisposes them to attacks by cybercriminals. Their information could be harvested for identity theft or an online predator might stalk them using their address or location. In order to prevent this, educate them on the importance of online privacy and also have them set their social media accounts to private.

5. Online addictions.

Addiction to the internet is a serious problem affecting today’s youth. This not only exposes them to other online dangers but also affects their mental health. If your teen spends an inordinate amount of time online, it’s only a matter of time before they come across or get addicted to things like porn or gambling. Even something that seems as innocent as online video games or social media can quickly lure your teen to addiction. To prevent things from getting this far, install and use parental controls on your teen’s devices and openly communicate about these addictions.

6. Malware and viruses.

Your teen might visit insecure or inappropriate sites and unwittingly install malware and viruses on their devices. This, in turn, compromises the personal and financial data of anyone who uses those same devices. Malware that installs itself in computers can steal personal information while viruses can cause irreparable damage to devices. Other than educating your teen on the presence of malware and viruses, you can also install antivirus and other security software to keep both your computer and data safe.

7. Phishing.

Phishing involves using emails to try and trick people into clicking on malicious links or attachments. These emails can sometimes look really authentic, just to confuse their intended victims. Once your teen clicks on these links, malware can either install itself to your computer or alternatively, cybercriminals will get a way to steal your personal information. Teach your children to be wary of messages or emails from strangers as well as those that claim to be from their friends and yet have no genuine personal messages.

Combating Online Dangers

When it comes to mitigating the risks that teens face online, there are a few steps you can take to protect them.

-- Improving communication with your teen.

Educating your teen on the dangers lurking online as well as showing them how to stay safe while using the internet will go a long way towards combating these hazards. Always be aware of what your teen does online, the sites they frequent and their social media activity so you can know what safeguards they require.

-- Limiting their screen time.

Teens nowadays tend to spend too much time with their faces glued on their screens. Coming up with rules around screen use in your home while modeling healthy tech use yourself, can help teens develop healthy habits with technology. Also, the less time they spend online, the safer they’ll be from online hazards.

-- Installing antivirus and other security software.

Antiviruses prevent viruses and malware from attacking your computer. They protect you from the theft of crucial personal data as well as protect your devices from damage. You can also install parental control programs to set up a secure framework for your teen’s online activities.

The internet is here to stay and while we can’t totally ban its use in our teens’ lives (nor should we want to), we can certainly arm them with the information they need to protect themselves online.

Author's Bio: 

Tyler Jacobson is a freelance writer, with past experience in content writing and outreach for parent and teen advocate organizations. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today.