The Internet has become a significant part of everyday life for teenagers and stands to become even more prevalent in the future. It is crucial, therefore, for parents to have a basic understanding of the Internet, as well as the potential dangers their teens may be exposed to when utilizing this invaluable educational and social tool.

There are a number of preventative measures parents can take to reduce the likelihood their children will be exposed to or involved in inappropriate Internet activity.

One of the best preventative measures a parent can take is to establish Internet guidelines with their children. This will make the child aware of parental expectations related to Internet use, as well as potential consequences of misuse.

A second preventative measure is to keep the computer in a general or high traffic area of the house. Teens are less likely to visit inappropriate websites or engage in inappropriate online behavior if there is an increased chance they will be caught by a family member.

A third preventative measure for parents is to obtain passwords to your teen’s social networking accounts. This will allow you access to their accounts and should help to curb inappropriate activity. In addition, parents are encouraged to establish a basic account on the social networking sites to which their children belong. Once an account has been set up, a parent should insist upon being invited to be one of your child’s “friends” through the social networking site. Establishing yourself as a “friend” will allow a parent to monitor not only who is communicating with your child, but what comments and images are being posted by your child and their friends. Viewing these comments and images may also make a parent aware of any illegal activity (underage alcohol/drug use), as well as inappropriate behavior your child or their friends may be engaging in.

A fourth preventative measure for parents is to stay current on the slang terms and Internet lingo commonly utilized by children. Teens commonly use code words and slang terms to disguise their conversations from adults. Websites such as and can assist parents by educating them on the latest terms, which will enable parents to “crack the code” regarding their child’s online conversations.

Lastly, parents can make use of parental control software to restrict access to harmful websites, as well as monitor their child’s computer activity. The following link provides reviews of a number of parental control software programs.

Article written by Officer Anthony Pine and Sergeant Ryan Park of the New Berlin, Wisconsin Police Department. Officer Park may be contacted at Used by permission.