Web Wise Kids

The Internet is a wonderful place full of educational and networking opportunities for your teen. However, it also contains many dangers. In most cases, parents can trust their teens to use good judgment in how they use the Internet. Unfortunately, there are individuals and groups online who are seeking your child’s attention and personal information with criminal intent.

How can you balance trusting your child, by allowing them to make good choices, with your parental desire to protect them from predators?

Green Hill Pediatric Associates in Nashville suggests these “Best Safety Apps for Teens”:

Net Nanny This app helps protect your teen from online predators, sites you have not approved, and other Internet pitfalls. With Net Nanny, you can block and filter any Internet activity you want. If you’re worried your teen is playing games instead of doing his homework, block them. If your teen is chatting too much, a time limit can be set via the app.

Digital Compass Some parents don’t want their kids to use the Internet extensively until they’re at least in middle school. The problem is, sixth- through ninth-graders may not know all they should about digital safety. The Digital Compass app teaches young teens what they need to know and tests their knowledge through interactive modules and mini games.

Secure Teen So often children are able to access harmful adult websites online. SecureTeen removes dangerous and mature content from your child’s Internet devices and blocks out predators, stalkers and cyberbullies. Additionally, it allows parents to track their child’s Internet use and manage their online time.

Sex Offender Search (SOS) Online sex offenders targeting their teens are every parent’s worst nightmare. The SOS app ensures your teen is a bit safer from predators. With it, you can view registered offenders in your area, including places your teen will spend the most time. The app comes with an address book to help you search contacts, and you can activate your phone’s GPS from anywhere using it.

TeenSafe This app monitors text messages and calls so teens can’t go over minute limits parents set or call people they shouldn’t. The app comes with a pause button parents can push on their phones that freezes their teen’s phone. This way, the teen can’t text while driving, even for short trips. Finally, the app can instantly pinpoint your teen’s exact GPS location to give an extra layer of security and peace of mind.

These are helpful tools, which are most effective when you have face-to-face conversations with your child about safety. Please include in your conversations cautions about meeting people in person who they have met on the Internet.

In my volunteer work with the local police department, I learned they have detectives assigned to seek out predators on the Internet by pretending to be teenagers on social media sites. What police detectives have learned from their work they now share with parent groups and school personnel. What’s their best advice? Keep the conversations going with your teenager. Encourage them to share with you any social media interactions requesting personal information about where they live, attend school, or go to church. No stranger online should be given personal information.

For more information, Web Wise Kids is a nationally recognized resource for home and school.

Check out these fun apps for tweens and teens:

About the Blogger: Ellen Mooney is a retired principal and teacher with more than 45 years of experience in K-12 education.

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