It's common for younger teens to experience periods of low self esteem, seek the approval of their friends, and be less willing to accommodate their parents' expectations. Older teenagers need both group identity and independence, and tend to reconcile their family and peer values. In late adolescence, kids also mature and are ready to interact with the world on an intellectual level. Generally, teens are open to new ideas but lack the life experience to judge their validity. It is important for parents to continue to play an active role in guiding their older children's use of the Internet.
What 13-17 year olds can do online
Teens download music, use instant messaging (IM), e-mail, and play online games. They also actively use search engines to find information on the Internet. Most teens have visited chat rooms, and many have participated in adult or private chats. Boys in this age group are more likely to push the boundaries by looking for gross humor, gore, gambling, or explicit adult sites. Girls may be more likely to chat online and therefore may be more susceptible to being sexually solicited online.
Create a list of Internet house rules with your teens. You should include the kinds of sites that are off limits, Internet hours, and guidelines for communicating with others online, including in chat rooms.
Keep Internet-connected computers in an open area and out of your teens' bedrooms.
Talk to your kids about their online friends and activities just as you would about their other friends and activities. This includes talking to your teens about their instant messaging list, and making sure they're not talking to strangers.
Investigate Internet-filtering tools as a complement - not a replacement - for parental supervision.
Help protect your children from offensive pop-up windows by using pop-up blocking software.
Know which chat rooms or message boards your teens visit, and whom they talk to. Encourage them to use monitored chat rooms, and insist they stay in public chat room areas (monitoring software).
Insist that they never agree to meet an online friend.
Teach your teens never to give out personal information without your permission when using e-mail, chat rooms, or instant messaging, filling out registration forms and personal profiles, and entering online contests.
Teach your kids not to download programs without your permission - they might unknowingly download spyware or a computer virus. Also teach your kids that file-sharing and taking text, images, or artwork from the Web may infringe on copyright laws. File-sharing and taking text, images, or artwork from the Web may infringe on copyright laws and can be illegal.
Encourage your teens to tell you if something or someone online makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Stay calm and remind your kids they are not in trouble for bringing something to your attention. (It is important that your teen does not think that their computer privileges could be taken away.)
Talk to your teenagers about online adult content and pornography, and direct them to positive sites about health and sexuality (Internet-filtering).
Help protect them from spam. Tell your teens not to give out their e-mail address online, not to respond to junk mail, and to use e-mail filters.
Be aware of the Web sites that your teens frequent. Make sure your kids are not visiting sites with offensive content, or posting personal information or photos of themselves (monitoring software).
Teach your kids responsible, ethical, online behavior. They should not be using the Internet to spread gossip, bully, or threaten others.
Make sure your teens check with you before making financial transactions online, including ordering, buying, or selling items.