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Teens are forming their own values and beginning to take on the values of their peers. As they mature, many are eager to experience more independence from their parents. Teens are closing in on becoming adults, so they need to learn how to exercise judgment about using the net safely, securely, and in accordance with their family ethic.

Teens have more internet access through cell phones, mobile devices, and friends' computers, as well as more time to themselves. So it isn't realistic to be always in the same room when they're online. They need to know that you and other family members can walk in and out of the room any time, and can ask them about what they're doing online.

Talk about credibility.

It's important to emphasize the concept of credibility to teens. Even the most tech-savvy kids need to understand that:

  • not everything they see on the internet is true
  • people on the internet may not be who they appear to be
  • information or images they share can be seen far and wide
  • once something is posted online, it's nearly impossible to "take it back"

Talk about expectations.

Because they often don't see facial expressions, body language, and other visual cues when they’re online, teens may feel free to do or say things that they wouldn't otherwise. Remind them that behind the screen names, profiles, and avatars are real people with real feelings.

When you talk to your teen, set reasonable expectations. Anticipate how you will react if you find out that he has done something online you don't approve of.

If your teen confides in you about something scary or inappropriate they've encountered online, try to work together to prevent it from happening again.

This article is part of a series: Talk to Your Kids
This series is available as a PDF: