On average, teenagers spend 7 hours and 22 minutes of their day in front of screens, which is over 40% of their waking hours. The internet is a fascinating place, so it’s easy for young minds to get sucked into the digital world.
While it can be good for them to explore the world and experience different things online, there are situations they can stumble into that aren’t age-appropriate—and there’s more to this than you think.
Read on to see the dangers of different types of content, what to watch out for, and how to practice good content monitoring of your child.
The Dangers of Online Content for Kids
Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, or even YouTube can seem like harmless sites that provide hours of entertainment for your child. However, they can have detrimental effects that may or may not be immediately obvious.
Here are some dangers you should be aware of.
In addition to sexual content, your teen may discover content that contains violence, hate speech, or graphic imagery.
These things can be emotionally disturbing and can also affect their understanding of appropriate behavior. Your child may develop desensitization to explicit content.
Most often, online predators pose as fellow kids and will manipulate children through online chats, social media, or gaming platforms.
Not only can these predators engage in inappropriate conversations with your kid, but these interactions can lead to dangerous situations. For example, they may meet offline, and the predator may exploit or even abduct your teen.
The internet potentially exposes your child to everyone in the world who has an internet connection.
They can experience harassment, humiliation, and threats from both peers and strangers alike. As a result, your teen may experience severe psychological effects, such as anxiety and depression.
It’s easy to present anything as facts to vulnerable and young people. Your child may shape their beliefs over fake news and end up having a lack of critical thinking skills. They’ll likely have a skewed vision of the world too.
Unhealthy Role Models
Teens often look up to content creators, and not all of them have great intentions or values. Not only can these influencers promote unrealistic body standards, but they can also encourage unhealthy behaviors and dangerous challenges. Your kid’s mental and physical well-being can be at risk if listening to the wrong voices.
Your child can develop an internet addiction, which can affect several areas of their life. Using the internet excessively can contribute to addictive behaviors, and their physical health, mental health, relationships, and schoolwork can suffer.
How to Practice Content Monitoring of Your Child
All of the above can sound frightening, especially if you’ve given your kid free digital reign until this point. However, it’s not too late to start content monitoring.
Below are some practical ways to keep your teen safe on the internet.
Set Clear Rules and Expectations
First, be clear about screen time limits. You should also set your expectations for their online behavior and what types of content they can consume.
Establishing boundaries is the most important step to keeping a healthy relationship around the internet. Make sure the rules and expectations don’t come off as punishments. Instead, explain the reasons behind these things and ensure your child fully understands.
Have Open Communication
It’s common for children to be afraid of their parents since they’re authoritative figures. This makes them hesitant about speaking to their parents about tough subjects, especially if they feel like they’ll be judged or punished.
The best way to know what’s going on in your teen’s life is to have open communication with them. Make them feel safe by assuring them you won’t be judgmental and you won’t punish them. Make it clear that they can come to you with any questions or concerns about their online experiences.
You’ll have a better idea of what to watch out for if you educate yourself.
Find out what popular websites, apps, and social media platforms your child uses and stay informed about them. Understand the features, as well as the risks associated with them.
Use Parental Control Tools
There are parental control tools you can install on devices that limit your teen in many ways. For example, they allow you to filter or block inappropriate content and also monitor their online activities. In addition, you can set time limits on site and internet usage so they stay focused on schoolwork.
These tools can provide an added layer of protection and help you manage your child’s digital experiences more effectively.
Review Their Browsing History
On that note, use these tools to regularly review your kid’s online browsing history. This can give you a good idea about the content they consume.
If you notice any red flags, bring them up gently. Make sure these conversations are open and safe and not accusatory. Together, you can discuss why these things might be bad and figure out other channels that are better for your child.
Make Sure Your Child Is Safe Online
Content monitoring is necessary if you want to ensure your child doesn’t consume bad and harmful material. Of course, there should be a balance between moderating online content and respecting your teen’s privacy.
However, if you suspect they’re struggling with online problems or developing an addiction, it’s best to intervene early on. With the proper tools and knowledge, you can help your kid grow up with a healthy relationship with the internet.
If you think your teen needs help with internet addiction issues, consider enrolling them in a youth treatment program. We have compassionate admission advisors who can help your family out.