Is your teenager safe? The teenage years are those first baby steps into adulthood that challenge young people to choose right from wrong, wise from unwise, safe from dangerous. If you have children of middle school or high school age, young adult safety is likely a major issue in your household. Here are a few tips to help protect and educate your children.
Young Adult Safety: On the Internet
Millions of teenagers drop their backpacks by the door and head straight for the computer when they get home from school, with friends or hanging out on social networking sites like Myspace.com and Facebook.com. But, as in real life, there are predators in the virtual world of the Internet. When it comes to the safety of your teenager, Internet protocol should be one of the first issues you address. The perception of the Internet as being “safe” and “anonymous” make it all the more dangerous to innocent, impressionable teenagers.
Set some young adult safety ground rules:
1) Put a parental blocker on your web browser so you can control what sites they are allowed to visit.
2) Monitor your child’s emails and IM conversations. Don’t outright spy, but glance over their shoulder now and then. If you see something you don’t like, address it there and then.
3) Educate your teenagers about the importance of Internet safety. Teach them not to give out their name, number, address, or any identifying information to strangers. Predators stalk teenage Internet hangouts like Myspace all the time.
4) Myspace and other social networking sites have safety controls in place to help protect your child, but you and your child have to work together as well.
5) With the right information, a teenager can enjoy all the good the Internet has to offer without falling victim to a predator.
Young Adult Safety: Home Alone
When is your child old enough to stay home alone? The answer depends on the emotional maturity and responsibility of the individual child, but usually by age 13 they are ready to spend a few hours home alone. Here are some young adult safety guidelines for your child:
1) Never admit you are home alone when answering the phone. Say that Mom or Dad “can’t come to the phone right now.”
2) Do not open the door for anyone you don’t know. Never.
3) If someone knocks at the door, do not indicate that you are home alone. Pretend to talk to someone if you want to: “Hey Mom! There’s someone at the door! What? Ok, I’ll tell them to come back later!”
4) Do not use cooking devices you are not familiar with when you are home alone. They are a fire hazard.
5) Do not swim when you are home alone.
6) Do not be afraid to call the police if you feel threatened by someone lurking outside your home, even if they look harmless. You have legitimate fears and are allowed to act on them.
Teenagers are on the verge of adulthood, and you are helping them make that journey. Granting them new privileges (with limits) helps them take those first steps towards independence with confidence and wisdom.
Maintaining young adult safety is hard work, but it prepares your children for the even greater dangers that exist in the adult world. Begin teaching them how to make wise choices early on, and you will wind up raising responsible, well-adjusted young adults.