Internet Safety: Be Smart on the Internet

All Youth, Families, Older Youth, Parents

Smartphone apps let teens go online, watch videos, and gaming with friends, but teens most commonly use their phones to send and receive text messages. Teens receive voice calls from their closest friends and prefer to use text messages for newer friends and acquaintances. The omnipresence of smartphones helps strengthen friendships, with 62% of smartphone-owning teens reporting that texting allows them to keep in closer contact with close friends. Additionally, having internet access via a smartphone may help teens make and maintain new friendships, with 57% reporting having made new friends online.

Smartphones and the internet open the door for cyberbullying, predators, sexting, and sextortion.

According to a Common Sense Media report, teens spend an average of nine hours a day on digital technology, excluding work for school. Because screens are ubiquitous, it is rarely an option to cut them out completely, so we must learn to engage with them in a healthy way. If not, we jeopardize our well-being.



·       Talking about social media use

·       Talking with your child is the best way to protect them from social media risks and ensure their internet safety.

·       Talking gives you the opportunity to help your child: work out how they want to treat other people and be treated online – for example, you can encourage your child to make only positive comments.

·       Talking helps them understand the risks involved in using social media – for example, your child might be tagged in an embarrassing photo taken at a party.

·       Learn how to navigate the risks – for example, if your child posts an identifiable selfie, they can reduce risk by not including any other personal information.

·       Learn what to do if people ask for personal details, are mean or abusive online, post embarrassing photos of them, or share information that links back to them.


Additionally, as most smartphones have GPS technology, users may unintentionally share their locations with the public. If a users’ photos have GPS location-tags or if a user “checks-in” to restaurants, airports, new cities, etc., friends and followers can see exactly where that person is or has been. Each smartphone brand or model may have a different way to turn off location-tracking services. Check the settings on your child’s phone, paying attention to which applications can access location data.


Raising Children Network.

Common Sense Education. (2019, October 8). Common Sense Education.

(Social Media Benefits and Risks: Pre-teens and Teenagers, 2022)