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How Can I Ensure My Teen's Safety on the Internet?

My 15-year-old daughter uses the Internet for several hours each day after school before I get home from work. How can I make sure that she is safe?
Ben

The Internet is a vast source of information — some good and some bad. If your teen learns to use it wisely, she can be safe while she uses the Internet for all the resources it has to offer. By limiting screen time to 2 hours a day and placing the family computer in a common area, not in an individual bedroom, you can keep an eye on both the computer and your child.

Encourage your teen to follow simple precautions, such as remaining anonymous at all times (this includes chat rooms); never disclosing private information, such as her address, phone number, school name, and credit card numbers; and never agreeing to meet someone she has met in a chat room in person.

Parental controls and filtering software also can help you protect your daughter from online predators and inappropriate adult content. Most important, talk to her about the dangers of interacting with strangers online and remind her that people online often don't tell the truth.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010

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