Resources for parents of at-risk and troubled teens.



October 2010

Teen Online and Computer Safety

by Staff, on at risk youth, identity theft, spyware, teen computer safety, teen internet safety, Teen Online and Computer Safety, teen online safety

We are all aware of the privacy issues that come with using a computer and internet, but our teens mostly aren’t. Even though they are more tech savvy than we are they seem to act on impulse and forget about the ground rules of safety when it comes to using the internet.

There are two types of safety issues regarding internet use, the computer safety where your computer is at risk of loosing data, crashing the operation system or even hardware malfunction due to a bios update and there are privacy issues, like identity theft, solicitation, cyber bullying and even disturbing material.

This is a broad subject that requires attention to every specific bit of information on these safety issues. So let’s talk about the three most used safety breach issues today. Not the ones that cause the most fear, although they do, but the ones that are used the most.

The first place is taken by Spyware. Although most people think that spyware only consists of cookies and background apps that will only slow down your computer they are far more malicious than that. Yes, 90% of spyware is harmless, but the other 10% is used mostly for stealing information and identity theft. Teen safety is compromised every time they use a site that needs cookies enabled, because they can leave their personal information on that site and the info will be up for grabs. Also teens tend to download all sorts of freeware, which is exactly where the spyware is. Most of the freeware programs and applications are free because they have a spyware or adware app running in the back and gathering info. Teens need to learn to recognize safe websites from malicious websites that hold dangerous to our privacy and to our computers.

The second internet safety issue is viruses. Yes we live in the era where software is developing fast and there are plenty of capable anti-virus software’s out there. But the same goes for viruses. When a new computer virus is created it takes days before they can come up with a countermeasure for it, so we are at constant risk. Again, it is important to know which sites are safe and what mails to open. Sometimes the spam filter will let through some emails that are not from our friends, so if you are not sure what it is or where it came from, delete it, you won't lose anything.

The third common internet safety issue is direct soliciting of minors, which is the greatest direct threat to teens and teen online safety. There are plenty of online predators out there, lurking on Facebook, MySpace, twitter or any other social media website. The same safety principle applies to these sites as it does for your mail. If you don’t know the person and the invite didn’t come as recommended skip it, ignore it. I know that most of these online predators will post pictures of young teens on their profile making it appealing to add them as friends, and most of them appear to be popular having hundreds and thousands of friends on Facebook, so it is hard to recognize the real safety issue. But once you get an inappropriate mail in your inbox be sure to delete the person and report it to the support team of that website.

Teen internet safety and general online safety is becoming a greater issue each day. Teens are dependant on the internet as all of their friends are online and that makes them careless. The fact that 99 teens out of 100 will never meet such a threat makes it easier for everyone to relax, until that 1 out of 100 cases happens. But somehow teens tend to forget that and keep to their old routines like nothing happened. As parents it is your duty to watch your teen’s safety, whether in real life or online. Staff