8 Tips To Protect Your Teen From the Dangers of Online Dating

8 Tips To Protect Your Teen From the Dangers of Online Dating 1

Thanks to apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge, online dating is becoming increasingly popular. Gone are the days when you could easily track a teenager’s dating habits simply by opening your front door and checking who came to pick them up for a date. Teens have now switched to online channels as a means of finding relationships (or even hookups) as it is easier, simpler, and more convenient. All you need is a mobile device or a computer and you’re all set.

But with this convenience comes the risk of encountering predators or getting victimized by scammers. With this in mind, keep your teenager safe by considering the following 8 tips.

1) Talk to your teen about the risks of online dating

Teenagers can be very strong-willed. You can’t just tell them not to do something and expect them to follow your rules without question. In fact, the teenage years are known for turning your child into a bit of a rebel. 

Instead of mandating certain rules regarding their dating habits, educate your teen on the dangers of online dating to help them avoid catfishers, sexual predators, and online dating scams. Even if it seems like your child isn’t listening, simply talking about the risks can really reduce your child’s risk of dangerous behavior online.

RELATED: 4 Unconventional Yet Effective Ways To Communicate With Your Children

2) Use apps to track your teen’s online activity

As much as you don’t want to be a helicopter parent, you need to be vigilant once your child becomes interested in dating and meeting people. This is especially true if you have a younger teenager, as they can be more naive when it comes to dating.

In the interest of keeping them safe, I recommend using monitoring apps or software that allow you to track some or all of their online activities.

3) Educate your teen on privacy protection

You won’t be able to stop your teen from engaging in online dating. Instead, educate them on how to protect themselves.

At the very least, teach them how to protect their privacy online. They should know not to share photos with sensitive information. This includes personal information such as where they live, what school they go to, etc.

4) Flag questionable content on social media

It can be easy to overlook inappropriate content when it’s not pertaining to you or something you care about. Fortunately, the report button was created for your protection as well.

Whenever you see a particular piece of content that violates the rules, even if it does not directly concern you or your child, report it. This will create a safer and more enjoyable experience for your teen and the members of that online community.

5) Take charge of their phone bills

A study conducted by PEW Research Institute in 2009 revealed that teenagers who do not pay for their phone bills are less likely to send sexually suggestive images and texts through their phones.

Taking control of their phone bills also allows you to observe patterns of what time they are making their calls and what numbers they are calling. For the sake of your child’s safety, make sure to monitor their phone bills.

RELATED: A Parent’s Guide To Safe Teenage Driving

6) Educate your child about the importance of using a strong password

It’s always important to observe standard online safety practices, like using a strong password. However, your teen may not be aware of this. Therefore, it is best that you remind them how to do so.

Tell your child to avoid using passwords that are easy to guess, such as their birthday, last name, and the word “password”.

7) Keep your antivirus software updated

Make sure that all of your online gadgets and computers have updated antivirus software and firewall protection to ensure your teen’s online safety.

These security updates are essential in continuously protecting your computer or device from malware and viruses used to steal valuable personal information. This information may be used in committing identity theft, stalking, and other crimes against your privacy and credibility.

8) Let your children know that they can come to you for advice

Maintaining open communication with your teenager is important during this stage of their life. Let your child know that they can come to you if they have any questions or encounter any problems.

Be firm but reassuring when talking to your child. Let them feel that it’s okay to mess up sometimes, as long as they learn from these mistakes.

RELATED: The ABCs of Raising Healthy and Happy Children

Take home message

Online dating is a convenient way to meet new people, and it’s not necessarily wrong for your teenager to try. If they’re old enough to date, they’re going to want to explore all the options available to them. Therefore, instead of restricting their options, make sure to guide them well to avoid any undesirable incidents and to ensure good clean fun.