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Teens and Technology: The 3 Ds of Danger

Four teen girls taking picture of themselvesResearch conducted by Common Sense Media found that 90 percent of America’s teens use social media and 41 percent consider themselves addicted to it. Although social media makes many users feel good, the study finds that dangers still exist. Protect your teenage children from the three dangerous Ds of technology: Deception, Distraction and Defamation through the following proactive measures. Taking action before your teen falls prey to the dangers of technology is the best way to keep him or her safe.

Deception

One all too common danger is the threat of adults posing as children. Take Anna Areola-Hernandez, for example, a 23-year-old woman who was arrested for child molestation after luring a 13-year old boy via Facebook, reports The Huffington Post. Teens can avoid these unfavorable encounters by only befriending people they know and by making their profile searchable only by their full name, phone number or email address via Facebook’s privacy settings.

Social media also facilitates identity theft. Teens who share too much personal information on their social media accounts could find themselves victims of this fraud. To help protect your child, have a family discussion about the dangers associated with sharing sensitive information such as social security numbers, home address or phone numbers. Enlist in identity theft protection from LifeLock, which can help keep your child safe in the event that he or she share sensitive personal information online.

Distraction

A separate study by Safe Kids Worldwide found that one in five high school students and one in eight middle school students cross the street while distracted by an electronic device. In fact, there has been a 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries among 16- to 19-year olds over the last five years. Help prevent this type of accident by teaching children about using technology in public. Discuss possible distractions, and teach good awareness habits to caution them of overs who may be looking over their shoulder as they use their devices.

Parents of teen drivers can make it a strict non-negotiable household rule that devices should either be off or completely out of site while operating a vehicle. SMS Racing is an interactive video game that illustrates the dangers of texting while driving. The player must operate a vehicle while looking down at a virtual iPhone screen to send and receive texts. The game offers a safe way to show children and teenagers how disastrous distractions can be.

Defamation

A recent survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that one in five teens have participated in sexting by electronically sending or posting nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves online. Keep your child’s reputation safe by discussing the dangers of sexting. Let your teen know that sexting isn’t just about sending nude images, messages or videos to an individualā€”rather, these images can potentially be shared to a mass audience causing humiliation and harsh consequences for years to come.

One of the reasons that has been credited for the surge in reported online bullying cases is the discrepancy between a teen’s emotional and social development and his or her technological savvy, according to Suite. Help prevent your teenager from becoming a victim to cyber-bullying by discussing the dangers of defamation. If your teen is already being harassed, save all messages and immediately block the bully. Ask your child if the bully might be anyone he or she knows from school, church or the neighborhood. Cyber Angels suggests notifying the authorities only if a cyber-bully persists after being told to stop or if your child’s life has been threatened in any way.

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