Stranger Awareness and Internet Safety in Teens

Using the Internet can bring adolescents into contact with many people whom they don't know. As teens become increasingly independent, they must know how to keep themselves safe with strangers they encounter through the Internet.

Computer and Internet safety tips for parents of teens:

  • Keep your computer in a common area of your home, not in an isolated room.
  • Monitor the websites and chat rooms your teen visits.
  • Limit the time your teen spends on the computer/Internet.
  • Ask your Internet service provider about parental control software.
  • Caution your teen about:
    • Opening forwarded e-mail or e-mail from strangers
    • Going to links that they don't recognize
    • Giving out personal information
    • "Meeting" new people online

Parents and caregivers should talk with teenagers about the potential dangers of social networking sites, such as MySpace or FaceBook. Make sure your teen understands the risks associated with posting personal information and photos on these websites. Once information is posted on these sites, it is very hard to erase.

Personal information includes the following:

  • Name, address, or phone number
  • Photos of self or friends
  • Name, address, phone number of workplace
  • Specific places, dates, and times of where you will be

Parents also should keep teenagers informed about news stories that illustrate the consequences of posting personal information online. It is extremely important that parents and caregivers never allow teens to meet face-to-face with an online acquaintance without supervision.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015