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How to keep tabs of your teens online

NON-PAPER TRAIL: Everything children put online contributes to their digital footprint. Picture:

NON-PAPER TRAIL: Everything children put online contributes to their digital footprint. Picture:

Published Jul 20, 2017


In the age of social media and instant gratification, being a technology-savvy parent is a must. Just as you’ve learnt the ins-and-outs of Instagram, your inquisitive teens just logged into their new Snapchat account. There’s no way of keeping up unless you’re constantly keeping tabs on their online habits.

Local author and creative parenting expert, Nikki Bush, knows the importance of being on top of your parenting game when it comes to guiding your children through the quagmire known as the internet.

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She and co-author Arthur Goldstuck published a know-how guide called Tech-Savvy Parenting: A Guide To Raising Safe Children In A Digital World.

In the book, she touches on some valuable points that all parents should take into account.

The internet remembers

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Think you’ve deleted an embarrassing picture from Facebook? Think again. “In just the same way as we do regular back-ups of the content on our computers, search engines and social networking sites do exactly the same thing and they keep multiple versions over time – it’s called a cache,” notes Bush.

Your online reputation matters

Everything children put online contribute to their digital footprint. When researching possible candidates for a job position, an employer goes straight to Facebook and Google. So that drunken photo from five years ago may come back to haunt them.

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The internet is able to track all our online activities, remembering:

- What you say in your posts.

- What photos you share.

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- What you buy.

- What you recommend to others.

- What you read.

- What websites you visit.

- The chat rooms you were part of.

Important questions to ask before posting online:

- What would their best friend’s father/mother think if they saw this post?

- What if this post landed up becoming the front-page story of a newspaper?

- Does this text or photograph portray them in a positive light, or is it embarrassing or degrading?

- Would they say this to the person’s face if he or she were here?

- Are they being respectful?

- Is it good manners?

This is the real world

It’s easier to post insulting remarks online because no one can see who you are. Bush advises parents to ask their children, “If I was alone, would I do this?” Or “If I was feeling strong, would I do this? The same goes for online behaviour: rather be a stand-out positive brand of one than follow a bunch of sheep into trouble,” she says.

SAVVY: Nikki Bush co-writer of Tech-Savvy Parenting. 

Looking for attention?

“Everyone wants to be noticed and everyone needs to belong to a group. One of the most upsetting things that can happen to anyone, but particularly to teenagers, is when they are shut out or left out,” writes Bush.

The result can be that youngsters do terrible things to themselves and others out of anger, spite or loneliness. Safety first, even online

Sadly, there are bad people preying on children who are not aware of the safely aspects of surfing the Net. There’s a reason Facebook has an age restriction of 13. Don’t let your children convince you to let them have an account before the required age.

Stop, block and tell

If your child is being harassed online or even trolled, teach them the safety mantra of stop, block and tell.

- Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath: do not answer or get into an argument online.

- Block the person who is harassing you For example, use the blocking feature on WhatsApp.

- Tell a parent or another adult you trust.

Online safety tips for parents and childen

- For better sleep, switch your phone off completely so that you aren’t disturbed by or tempted to check for messages or social media updates in the night.

- Keep your cellphone charged at all times. A dead phone cannot help you in an emergency.

- Make sure your phone – as well as any other device you may use – is password-protected, and don’t share that password with anyone.

- Switch off the geo-location settings on your phone and don’t use apps such as Foursquare. Geo-location tells people where you are, so that even predators will be able to find you.

- Make sure you implement privacy settings on your social media profiles to give you some control over who sees what.

- Make sure that what you post is a good representation of who you are as a person.

- Google yourself from time to time to see what comes up.

- Do learn how to block and ‘unfriend’ others.

* Tech-Savvy Parenting: A Guide To Raising Safe Children In A Digital World is available on

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