How to protect my daughter when she is online’?

Today’s teens use technology more than ever. Our young girls have access to blogs, online videos, social networking, celebrity gossip and world news.

While most of the activities that your daughter participates in, such as emailing and chatting with friends, are safe, there are some dangers to using the Internet.

Unfortunately the same advances in computer and telecommunication technology that allow our children to reach out to new sources of knowledge and cultural experiences are also leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and harm by computer-sex offenders. Some teens may post inappropriate photos online or be the victims to cyber bullying. When your daughter uses the Internet, be aware of the possible dangers andfollow some simple steps to protect her online.

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Educate your daughter to only befriend people on social media that she knows personally.

• Talk to your daughter about Internet safety. Remind her that she must never give out her full name, address or the name of her school to anyone online. Do not let her choose usernames that are suggestive or that would allow someone to identify her. Make sure that she knows never to attempt to meet anyone that she has communicated with online without your permission.

• Young girls are bombarded daily by media images that send out a message to our girls that their value or their worth is related to how they look physically. We now see a major problem with our young girls who feel that they need to exchange sex for love. This

• Leads many young girls to post inappropriate photos of themselves on websites or Face Book. What girls need to be educated about is that once these images go out into the cyber world, they no longer own them, they have no control who sees them and these images are like a tattoo, there forever.

• Supervise your child when she's online. Know which sites she visits, and monitor what types of online activities she participates in. Keep the computer in a central location in your home to make it easier to keep an eye on her. You are the parent and need to set boundaries with what your daughter can and can not have access to online.

• Use your Internet provider's parental controls to ban certain websites if desired. Another option is to install filtering software.

• Check your computer's history periodically to make sure that your child is following the rules that you have set for Internet use.

• When it comes to online bullying which has become epidemic in todays society, encourage your daughter to communicate with you about what is going on in her world. She will be far more inclined to tell you about any online bullying if she feels she can confide in you. Bullying online has become so easy for teens to do as online communication gives people a sense of bravery and lack of accountability. Make sure your daughter knows that cyber bullying is harmful and unacceptable. Teach teens not to respond to cyber bullies. Show them how to block the bully’s messages or to delete messages without reading them.

Marina Passalaris is the founder and director of Beautiful Minds Australia, a school dedicated to educating girls about selfesteem, etiquette and life skills to help them become confident and dynamic individuals. She is also the author of the new book, Beautiful Minds, available from