Online Safety Tips for Keeping Teens Safe This Summer

Teens sitting on the couch.
School is almost out for the summer, and students will be spending even more time gaming, browsing and messaging through various apps. Are they aware of the latest scams aimed at stealing their personal information or predatory apps that could expose them to harmful content?

According to the 2022 Annual Report from online monitoring service Bark1, 9.4% of tweens and 14.2% of teens encountered predatory behaviors from someone online. In addition, 66% of tweens and 84.8% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol.

Bark’s analysis of messages, images and video point to apps like Discord, Instagram, Reddit and Snapchat as being the most dangerous for harmful content. Bark offers helpful advice for discussing tough subjects with your teen.

Parents should also be aware of online scammers who want to steal their child’s identity or banking information if they have a student account. The Federal Trade Commission advises that parents talk about safe file sharing, harmful links and phishing as soon as their child begins to use a computer regularly.

Social Media Privacy Settings

Check your teen’s social media privacy settings often. Encourage them not to share their location or add friends they don’t know. If you have a teen that posts often, talk to them about how oversharing can lead to them inadvertently providing answers to security questions or personal details a criminal can use to open accounts in their name.

Details to avoid sharing include their age, school or where they live. Also, encourage them to tell an adult if someone begins asking them for personal details. Even if they’re an older teen who feels they can spot a scammer, tactics are constantly changing, and they could still be affected.

A good rule of thumb: remain anonymous whenever possible. Sharing personal information can make someone a target.

Job Scams

SouthState’s fraud experts report seeing an increase in job scams in the summer months. If you have a teen looking for part-time work to make some extra cash while school is out, warn them that not every job listing is legitimate.

Scammers use social media posts to ask for personal information, such as address or bank information for direct deposit, claiming that they need to verify employment eligibility. Only give personal details to an official source for a job listing. It’s a good idea to visit or call the business to ensure the job listing is real.

If the person begins to pressure your teen into giving them personal details to apply for the job, it’s a red flag.

Cybersecurity Awareness: Steps to Take if You Experience Fraud

Friends and Acquaintances

If you have a teen with their own bank account, talk to them about not sharing their online banking credentials or mobile phone with the online banking app.

Teens are targeted for fraud schemes where someone they know logs into their mobile banking app or borrows their device and commits fraud. These schemes often end in the “friend” benefiting from the fraud, and the teen or parent owing money to the bank.

Remind your teens that they are responsible for transactions on their account even if someone they trust commits fraud. Banking information should always be private.

Online contacts also pose a threat. In one scenario, a teen is contacted on Instagram to open a new account, and they are instructed to hand over the online account information and the instant-issued debit card to the person in exchange for a small fee. They use the teen’s account to deposit fraudulent mobile checks and withdraw funds from the ATM before the deposited check is determined to be fraudulent. The teen is then on the hook for the overdrawn account balance.

New Downloads

For most teens, their world is their phone. They need to use it with safety in mind, especially when it comes to downloading apps.

Free apps can be hiding spyware or serve advertisements that lead to a malicious website. Make sure to check reviews and only download from reputable sources.

Read more: Banking Safety on the Go


Anyone can be targeted by a phishing attack. Some people simply aren’t paying attention and click a malicious link in error while others fall victim to a scammer posing as a friend with a new number or social media account.

Remind your teen not to reply to texts or DMs from people they don’t know and to be wary of opening attachments or downloading files they didn’t request. Unexpected files may contain malware.

Helpful tip: show, don’t always tell. If you receive a phishing text or email, show it to your teens. Giving them a real example can help them recognize red flags on their own and help them understand that messages on the internet aren't always what they seem.

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