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Instant Messaging Tips

​​This information is included in our Guide to Parenting in the Digital Age. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Help your teen stay away from Instant Messaging troubles with some helpful tips.

  1. Tell your kids you won’t tolerate any threats, too personal questions, mean comments or profanity in their online conversations (either from them or others). If they can’t say something in front of their grandma, they shouldn’t say it online either.
  2. Let your kids know you monitor their online activity. Then, DO IT! (Check the site www.getnetwise.org ​for good tips on this.)
  3. Encourage your kids to tell their friends you are monitoring their Instant messages, emails and Internet chat. Kids stop nasty talk when they know a parent is watching.
  4. Check their “buddy list” (the group of people they chat with online) weekly. Ask them to identify everyone on it. If there’s someone they’ve never met or that you don’t know, remove that person from the list and block them from further IM conversations with your kids.
  5. Make sure your kids know they should tell you IMMEDIATELY if anyone online, “friend” or not, threatens to hurt others or themselves. If you aren’t home when the threat is made, your teen needs to stop the online conversation right away, turn off the computer and contact you (or call the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000) for help.
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