As a parent, I think the question that bugs me the most is: “What is the most appropriate age to let your young teenager stay home alone?”. I have no idea! I was raised in a different time, by a single mother who worked three jobs! We were often home alone and long before we were teenagers. The debate got me to thinking about increased safety for teenagers home alone, perhaps before their parents arrive home from work.
The dreaded thought of any young teenager opening the front door to a complete stranger is the beginning to a horror story that doesn’t bear thinking about. I looked into it, and using a website like this, I discovered an excellent way to indicate very clearly that door to door callers are not welcome: warning signs. A sign is not only a great way to show you are vigilant against any potential unwanted callers, but also gives anyone inside the house the perfect non-rude reason for refusing to open the door – “My mom said to call the police if you ignore the sign, did you see the sign?”. Perfect.
Security Cameras or CCTV
I used to know someone who worked in an aquarium gift shop. They had terrible trouble with children pocketing all manner of goodies, such as pencils and pens and erasers. The stock count was always down. Then I remember they hit upon an idea. CCTV, the small affordable units give you a sense of security, even when you cannot be at home. Available online, these genius devices are an inexpensive and super easy way to make anyone with criminal intentions think twice before approaching your home.
Not all forms of ‘stranger danger’ occur in person. Staying safe online is a major part of protecting teenagers, as they are legally permitted to access social media by the age of 13. Obviously having a talk with children about not sharing personal information with strangers online is a given, but setting parental controls is a quick and easy way to prevent your child from innocently following a link to untrustworthy corners of the web.
Google's Safe Access
Although you will need to look up how to set parental controls on different devices, creating a Google account and switching your child’s ‘safe access’ permissions to ‘locked’ is a great place to start. ‘SafeSearch’ can be turned on in seconds from the Google home screen – look in the bottom right of the screen for the settings tab (I bet you’ve never noticed it before, but it’s there!). Next, select ‘Search Settings’, click ‘Lock Safesearch’ and you’re good to go.