Are your kids hitting the age where they are becoming interested in dating? Here’s what you need to know to keep them safe from the dangers of online dating.
With online dating becoming increasingly popular thanks to apps like Tinder, gone are the days when you could easily track a teenager’s dating habits simply by opening your front door and checking who came to pick them up for a date.
Teens have now switched to online channels as a means of finding relationships (or even hookups).
After all, they are easier, simpler, and more convenient than meeting in person. All your teen needs is a mobile device or a computer and they’re all set.
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But with this convenience comes the risk of encountering predators or getting victimized by scammers, so keep your teenager safe by observing the following tips:
1. Talk to your teen about the risks of online dating
Teenagers can be very strong-willed. You can’t just tell them not to do something and expect them to follow your rules without question.
The teenage years are known for turning your child into a bit of a rebel, so instead of mandating certain rules regarding their dating habits, educate your teen on the dangers of online dating to help them avoid catfishers, sexual predators, and online dating scams.
Even if it seems like your child isn’t listening, simply talking about the risks really can reduce your child’s risk of dangerous behavior online.
2. Use apps to track your teen’s online activity
As much as you don’t want to be a helicopter parent, you need to be vigilant once your child becomes interested in dating and meeting people.
This is especially true if you have a younger teenager, as they can be naiver when it comes to dating and its dangers. In the interest of keeping them safe, you can use a monitoring app or software that will allow you to track some or all of his or her online activities.
3. Educate your teen on privacy protection
You won’t be able to stop your teen from engaging in online dating. So, instead, educate them on how to protect themselves.
At the very least, teach them how to protect their privacy online. They should know not to share photos with geographical information, as well as other personal information such as where they live, what school they go to, etc.
It can be easy to overlook inappropriate content when it’s not pertaining to you or something you care about. But the report button is there for your protection as well, so you should maximize its use.
Whenever you see a particular piece of content that violates the rules, even if it does not directly concern you or your child, report it. This will create a safer and more enjoyable experience for your teen and the members of that online community.
5. Take charge of their phone bills
A study conducted by PEW Research Institute in 2009 revealed that teenagers who do not pay for their phone bills are less likely to send sexually suggestive images and texts through their phones.
Taking control of their phone bills also allows you to observe who they’re calling and when they’re calling them. For the sake of your child’s safety, make sure to monitor their phone bills.
6. Educate your child about the importance of using a strong password
It’s always important to observe standard online safety practices like using a strong password. However, your teen may not be aware of this. So, it is best that you remind him or her to do so.
Tell your child to avoid using passwords that are easy to guess, such as their birthdates, last names, and the like.
7. Keep your antivirus software updated
Make sure that all of your online gadgets and computers have updated antivirus software and firewall protection to ensure your teen’s online safety.
These security updates are essential in continuously protecting your computer or device from malware and viruses used to steal valuable personal information. Predators may use this information in committing identity theft, stalking, and other crimes against your privacy and credibility.
8. Let your children know that they can come to you for advice
Maintaining open communication with your teenager is important during this stage of his or her life. Let your child know that he or she can come to you with any questions or problems.
Be firm but reassuring when talking to your child. Let them know that it’s okay to mess up sometimes — as long as they learn from their mistakes.
Take Home Message
Online dating can be a convenient way to meet new people. And it’s not necessarily wrong for your teenager to give it a try. If they’re old enough to date, they’re going to want to explore all the options available to them. Therefore, instead of restricting their options, make sure to guide him or her well so they can avoid the dangers of online dating, without missing out on the fun!
Looking for other ways to help keep your children happy and healthy? Check out our guide to prebiotics for kids!
About the Author
Kris Trecer is a freelance writer and loves to go on travels. She is called Krissy by her family and close friends. She is an animal lover, aspiring fashionista and a fan of Hello Kitty. On weekends, Kris likes to go on cafés to write or read books. In fact, it is through writing that she is able to share her thoughts and ideas and is currently working towards starting her own lifestyle blog.