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Tips And Resources: Teens Online

Parents of teenagers have always been concerned about what their sons and daughters are up to. But in the technology era of ultra-connected tweens and teens, it's a lot harder to keep track of young adults' every move.

A new study shows that at least 93 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 use the Internet regularly. When socializing is largely digital, what's a parent to do?

Read on for tips on how to keep teens safe online - and lots of useful links for Internet users of all ages.

Expert Tips For Parents

CBS News science and technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg interviewed author Gregory Smith about how to keep teens safe online. He gave CBS News some tips to share.

1. Get up to speed on modern-day technologies. Parents can't fight a battle that they don't understand. This includes taking an inventory of everything in the house that can connect to the Internet.

2. Use content filtering on any computer that a minor uses at home to access the Internet. My recommendation is CyberPatrol, which has easy to use pre-set age-based filter settings.

3. Use stealth technology where appropriate for troubled teens or teens suspected of using the Internet to access inappropriate content or those who communicate with strangers. My recommendation is PC Tattletale. No matter what - don't disclose that your using stealth software to your kids. They'll think you know a little more than they do and that's good enough to make them think twice.

4. Develop an Internet Use Policy for your children and clearly spell out expectations and repercussions. My book gives a good example of a draft agreement. If kids break the rules, warn first, then revoke the appropriate online capability if abused a second time. Internet usage and tools are a privilege, not a right and most come with fees to use them.

5. Talk to your children about the risks of going online. Don't sugar coat the risks either. This is possibly the most important recommendation I can make. Make sure your kids know that they can come to you and talk about anything. A healthy relationship between parents and kids helps pave the way for a good childhood and better prepares them for a prosperous life as an adult.

Related Resources

  • Check out Gregory Smith's Web site here.
  • GetNetWise is a service supplied by the Internet industry corporations and other groups "to help ensure that Internet users have safe, constructive, and educational or entertaining online experiences." Check out its tools for families database or its training series.
  • For a report from the Progress and Freedom Foundation titled Parental Controls and Online Child Protection: A Survey of Tools and Methods, click here.
  • Check out the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee, a "diverse group of public interest, non profit and industry groups working to educate the Congress and the public about important Internet-related policy issues."
  • GenTech on

    In compiling the series "GenTech: The Wiring of Teen America," the staff at looked at many Web sites and blogs. Here are some interesting places to find more information. While we found them useful, we can't vouch for all the information found in them.
  • - A forum where teens, parents, teachers and adult bloggers can learn about the benefits of safe blogging & social networking.
  • WebMD's Health Blogs - The blog page of WebMD, with discussions on variety of health-related topics.
  • CMDC: Children's Digital Media Center - Funded by the National Science Foundation, this university partnership examines the impact of the media on youth.
  • CyberTipline - National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's site for reporting sexual exploitation of children.
  • Instructional Technology Resources - A blog on technology resources for educators, maintained by an Ashland University librarian.
  • Technology and Child Development Blog - The blog for a class at the University of Washington on the new technologies influencing kids and how technology influences childhood development.
  • Family Resource - Uses the accessibility of the Internet to educate parents on subjects ranging from relationships to finances.
  • GetNetWise - From the Internet Education Foundation, this Web site enables parents to protect their families from online dangers.
  • Guardian Angel Technology - Research and shop for the latest technologies in personal tracking, from cell phones to child monitoring devices, to prevent kids from going missing.
  • i-SAFE America - Non-profit foundation, endorsed by the U.S. Congress, dedicated to protect the online experiences of youth.
  • Kotaku - A regularly updated insider's look to the freshest trends in computer gaming.
  • National Institute on Media and the Family - A nonprofit, national resource center for research, information, and education about the impact of the media on children and families.
  • NetSmartz Workshop - Co-founded by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, this Web site is an interactive safety resource to teach kids and teens how to stay safe on the Internet.
  • - The personal blog of lawyer and professor Kent Newsome, with a focus on legal and technology-related topics.
  • Parent Hacks - A blog about parenting that includes "practical parenting wisdom."
  • Opinionated Parenting - A parenting blog where a mother and a father face-off on different issues.
  • Parenting Club - An online parenting community that includes parenting tips and advice, as well as message boards.
  • - Web site for Parents magazine that includes articles and advice.
  • Pew Internet & American Life Project - Produces official survey reports on the impact of the Internet on multiple facets of life.
  • Polly Klaas Foundation - An organization that distributes missing child information, child internet safety advice, and other parenting information.
  • - A site that is a "family guide to making the Internet and technology fun, safe and productive." It includes child internet safety advice and information for parents.
  • - A site "dedicated to helping families surf the Internet with awareness, safety, and knowledge."
  • - A site with information for teens and parents about safe blogging and internet surfing.
  • Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education - An academic site dedicated to technology use in education.
  • Software Time - A product that limits the amount of time that can be spent online.
  • National Cyber Security Alliance - Advice and resources on cyber security.
  • The Mom Coach - A blog for mothers and their families.
  • The Parenting Chat - A message board for parents of young children that covers a wide range of parenting topics.
  • Wise Kids - A site that promotes safe internet use for children and teenagers.
  • Wired Safety - An online safety and help community.
  • - Daily news and commentary about Generation Y for media and marketing professionals.