In 2016, walking into any public place will likely exhibit a variety of people, young and old, using their mobile phone.
Whether it’s for research on the internet, scrolling through social media, or connecting with friends and family, there is always a reason to use your phone these days. Though there are persons at every age who can be held accountable for excessive use, none seem more dependent on their smart phones than the tech-savvy teens of the 21st century.
Internet Use Among Teens
A recent study conducted by non-profit organization Common Sense Media interviewed a sample of 1,250 parents and their teenage children ranging in age from 12-18 on cell phone and internet use.
The study found that fifty percent of teens said they felt addicted to their smart phone, while 59% of parents agreed with their child’s sentiment.
With constant and continued use of cell phones, laptops, and tablets, there is a heightened risk of malware, viruses, and scams infiltrating your personal information. If there is a shared computer at home that is used for paying bills, online banking, or shopping, your information could be susceptible to attack from scammers.
Although teens seem to spend most of their time behind the screen communicating with friends and flipping through social media, hackers can still prey on the naïve and potentially draw out sensitive information from those who aren’t being careful.
This problem doesn’t just affect teens in the United States – scamming today’s youth has become a global problem as well, and it’s not just sensitive information that they’re after.
The Straits Times of Singapore interviewed Chong Ee Jay, Assistant Manager of non-profit organization Touch Cyber Wellness. “Online predators are getting more creative in exploiting the young and vulnerable,” Jay explained, “such as recruiting them for loan sharks, DVD or drug runners.”
For today’s youth, irresponsible use of technology has become such an issue with families in some countries that organizations like Mr. Chong’s have come about to raise awareness and provide assistance to those in need of support services. Touch Cyber Wellness is located in Singapore, and “works closely with youths, parents and educators to cultivate respect, a balanced lifestyle, and responsible use of digital technologies to affect a positive and healthy cyber culture at home, in school and in the community.”
With predators on the rise and technology only becoming easier to use in younger children, steps must be taken by parents and guardians to ensure the safety of their child when using any form of internet.
Protective Measures for Parents and Teens
As a parent and often owner of the computers and tablets our children use, it is your job to make sure that the proper anti-virus and malware programs are installed and up-to-date on your devices. Be sure to run thorough scans on all your devices on a regular schedule.
Monitor what websites your teen has access to. Instead of taking the unrealistic approach of blocking all access to the internet, sit down with your teen and discuss the potential dangers and scams that are out there.
Teach your teen to be a responsible and confident user of all the information that the internet has to offer, but to be discerning when it comes to unfamiliar e-mails, friend requests, and pop-up ads. Your teen may not know that cookies are used to track their interests across the web, allowing for all-too-convenient pop-ups that can easily lure an unknowing user in.
With education and guidance, our teens will reap the rewards of responsible and safe use of the wealth of valuable information that the internet has to offer, while dodging every scam that is only out to dupe them.