May 04, 2010 —
A recent Pew Research Center report found that 93 percent of American teens go online, and nearly 75 percent of teens are on social networking sites. For the most part, the Internet is an incredibly helpful tool. It helps us get directions, find stores, do research, connect with friends, and a million other things – but it can also expose our families to dangers. Just last month, a Massachusetts teen took her life allegedly because she was bullied in the classroom and online. And just last week, cyberbullying legislation was passed in the state that will require school employees to report bullying incidents and require the principals to investigate them. The reality is, in today’s world, our teens feel pressures not just when they’re face-to-face with peers but when they’re online, too. Making matters worse, from cough medicine abuse to illicit drugs to drinking, some teens may be discussing dangerous—and sometimes illegal—behavior using social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The good news is that there are many positive resources out there that both you and your teens can find online. When it comes to your teens’ online behavior, you must set guidelines about what is appropriate for them to browse. If they’re contemplating joining a social network, join with them and monitor what is on their pages. Also, stay in-the-know about the newest trends and online teen lingo, as well as other parental control tools that can help you keep your teens safe online. Facebook recently created The Safety Center designed to help protect our teens from online security issues, such as cyberbullying. MySpace and Facebook both offer safety guides and FAQs about their services, and if you don’t already have an account you might consider signing up for one yourself. We’re really proud of the Facebook community that has grown around Stop Medicine Abuse, and it’s a great way for parents to connect with other parents and discuss medicine abuse issues. Are you and your family on Facebook? We would love for you to join the conversation and share your tips with others about protecting families online.