Today’s adolescents are growing up in a world consumed by the internet, especially via their smartphones. There are now constant pressures of social media, which was never an issue for prior generations.
Kids also have much less privacy nowadays because of the internet. Plus, they are tempted by their peers to get high on bath salts and synthetic marijuana, and to try vaping. They are enticed to try new drugs as well as all the drugs previous generations grew up with.
And whereas prior generations mainly had the lure of pornographic magazines and catalogs that they couldn’t legally buy or access, pornography is now easily accessible to today’s teens via a quick online search. One study claims that there are more monthly searches for pornography than searches for Amazon, Twitter, and Netflix combined.
Teenagers and the Dark Web
The internet is a wild west of dangers for kids to get into. That child who is quietly mining bitcoins could be using those to buy heroin off a site on Tor.
Tor (originally “The Onion Router”) is considered a dark web, which is part of the internet – part of the deep web – that cannot be accessed without special software. Teenagers know how to access darknets like Tor via an easy download.
Tor was originally created for private communications within the U.S. Navy, so the information would remain inaccessible by outsiders and remain anonymous. Tor’s “onion” reference implies many hidden layers.
A dark web is basically a fully anonymous section of the web, but one that has marketplaces which advertise everything from hit men to fake IDs to every type of drug one can imagine. Being aware of what to look for on a high schooler’s computer or smartphone is a help, because there is nothing on the dark web that an adolescent needs to access – so if you see Tor, Freenet, Riffle, or I2P, remove the software and talk to your child.
Adolescence and Peer Pressure
That talk is nearly the same conversation parents have been having for generations, although now it needs to include many more topics than just the birds and the bees. High school and even middle school kids are using drugs they pilfer from their parents’ medicine cabinet, or drugs their older brothers give to them to sell.
Other new dangers that adolescents now face is the ease of use of getting a ride via UBER or LYFT. Picture a 14-year-old girl getting into one of those ride-sharing services – that could absolutely spell danger. Parents must remain vigilant and care about how their teenager gets to and from the mall or a friend’s house.
There aren’t many parents who are savvy enough to track their kid’s online movements and keep them away from any interaction with an adult who is posing online as a fellow teen. Teach and encourage your kids to not give out personal information online to others, because the other person may not be the person they claim to be.
Pediatricians for Children and Adolescents
Monitor your child’s computer use and online access. It’s a good idea to move the computer to the dining room table or other open space when they need to use it, and also keep track of their smartphone activities.
If you’d like to speak to a pediatrician about your child’s internet use, contact us today at Children’s Health Care. Call us at either our Newburyport or Haverhill office, or request a consultation online. We look forward to helping you raise a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child from infancy through adolescence.