How Teens can Stay Safe Using Technology 

By: Dale Roberts, Principal at Centarus 

The internet is full of opportunities for people to learn, have fun, and interact with others. Unfortunately, the internet also brings with it new risks, and these risks particularly endanger teenagers. The resources needed for parents and their teenagers to use the Internet safely are provided in the advice that follows. 

Start with the Hardware 

One of your teen’s most vulnerable online activities should be where your child internet protection strategy should begin because it is right in front of you. Nevertheless, if your kid has their own laptop (or frequently borrows yours), it might get them into a lot of trouble. A laptop that may provide unrestricted access to email accounts, personal information, and even crucial passwords and credit card data might disappear in an instant if left unattended in a public setting. Thus, start with safeguarding your teen’s laptop if you want to improve their cybersecurity. 

Malware, Viruses, and Spyware 

The next most important step is make your teenagers aware of what kinds of cyber attacks they could be targeted by. Here are some of the most common attacks: 


All malicious software is collectively referred to as malware. 


The virus is a sort of malware that can infiltrate a computer’s operating system covertly and control it to take activities that harm the system or impair its functioning. 

Trojan Horse 

Trojan horses are ostensibly innocent programmes or tools that hackers use to infiltrate your operating system with malware. 


Spyware is harmful software that enables a third party to access your computer’s data without your knowledge. 

Social Media: Online & In Public 

Malware and scams aren’t the only internet hazards, as horrible as they are. Teenagers can now live a significantly larger portion of their life online because to social media. Yet while social media enables kids to stay in touch with friends and family even when they are separated by great distances, many of life’s risks have also followed them online. 

Protect Your Mobile Hardware 

When using mobile phones, tablets, and other devices that could store sensitive data of a similar nature or that could be used to access personal information online, many of the same security precautions you take with your laptops should also be taken. Urge your adolescent to secure all of their devices with passwords and turn on the device location feature. 

ID Theft 

So why is it so dangerous for a teen to disclose their location? There is a clear risk involved with disclosing passwords for online merchant accounts or credit card details. But why would an image that shows someone’s address or an address cause issues? 

Sadly, teenagers are just as prone to identity theft as adults are, and the repercussions for teenagers of someone using their information to apply for a credit card or access other financial resources can be just as serious, if not worse, than the repercussions for an adult. Teenagers don’t typically have a credit history, so having an identity thief damage their credit rating might make it difficult from the beginning to get a good credit history. 

Scams and Online Shopping 

But, online con artists use various methods in addition to identity theft. Internet buying has risks of its own. In the infamous example previously mentioned, a young woman believed she was purchasing an expensive prom dress at a great price only to find out that the dress she received in the mail had nothing in common with the online image. It was of low quality, ill-fitting design, and was not returnable. 

How can Centarus help with Keeping your Teens Safe on the Internet 

Centarus can assist in helping you protect your teens on the internet by first securing all of their devices with the antivirus and firewall services we offer. Our firewall services can also give you the chance to block your teens from viewing any online content that you may not want them seeing. If you need any help or any of these services please get in contact with us here at Centarus today. 

Special thank you to Centarus for writing this blog as a follow up to CORA’s Teens & Tech-Enabled Abuse campaign! Want to learn more about this topic? Check out Cyber Abuse & Teens. 


Walking Away from Tech-Enabled Abuse: Michael’s Story

Michael was home from college for the holidays when he met Taylor. Michael hadn’t had a lot of dating experience, but he knew he wanted a relationship.  

After trying out some of the common dating sites like Bumble and Tinder and nothing panned out, he came across a channel on the social platform Discord. The channel was focused on one of his favorite video games, and he thought it would be great to meet someone with that common interest.   

Michael met Taylor in the group, and they quickly made their relationship official. While they never met in person, things felt right and good for a while. They spent a lot of time together online through Discord, texting, and phone calls.  

Somewhere along the way, though, Michael started to feel he and Taylor were too connected—spending too much time together.   

And while it was great that he and Taylor could easily access each other with the help of technology, it was that very same technology that Taylor used to abuse Michael.   

Taylor became unreasonable, expecting constant contact and discouraged Michael from connecting with family.  

Michael saw other issues in his relationship, too. It seemed like he was always to blame for all of their problems. And Taylor became increasingly controlling in frightening ways, threatening self-harm and even suicide if he didn’t do what she said.   

Michael realized his relationship was unhealthy, but he credits his parents with helping him find the courage to break things off. When they witnessed some his communications with Taylor, they recognized the abuse he was enduring. They talked to him about it and it helped him decide what to do.  

Unfortunately, when Michael blocked Taylor on Discord, Taylor created new profiles and kept reaching out. When Michael blocked her number, she called from a different one. In time, Taylor stopped trying to contact Michael.  

Michael shared that Discord allows users to create multiple profiles and blocks are not universal, so if you block an abusive person’s main profile, not all of their profiles or future profiles are automatically blocked, too. He thinks that if there’s one thing social platforms could do to help decrease digital abuse, it would be to make blocks universal and enforce it.  

*Names have been changed for privacy* 

Cyber Abuse & Teens

Before the internet, abuse was harder to perpetrate in public spaces. Today, abuse flourishes day and night in the public space that is the internet.  

Similar to how a home can become a place of fear for victims of domestic abuse because of the lack of witnesses, the internet allows perpetrators of abuse to carry out hurtful communications and actions privately and even anonymously. 

While technology use spans age groups, it is particularly integrated into the lives of youth with one study reporting youth spending more time with tech than any other activity besides sleeping (Roberts & Foehr, 2008). And it’s hard to blame them. Youth are entering a technology-first world where the majority of their interests and needs can be most efficiently met online. 

A lot of what we do is increasingly moving onto the internet, including darker sides of human behavior, like abuse.  

With the state of things, what do we need to do to support teens as they grow up online? 

Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Abuse 

Parents and teachers are not seeing what happens online or in text messages and other private online communications platforms. It makes it all too easy for teens to become victims of abuse and it to go unnoticed, but can help to know what signs of abuse look like. 

Some of the signs of tech-enabled or digital abuse are the same as other forms of abuse, like isolation or anxiety and depression. The less obvious indicators might be being glued to devices coupled with receiving messages constantly. These may come in the form of texts, emails, or messages via social media.  

Connect & Listen 

While it may be challenging to express concern without seeming intrusive, if you are worried that a teenager in your life is dealing with digital abuse, it’s okay to express concern. If you need help figuring out what to say to help or what resources to offer, you can reach out to CORA any time for advice. Our hotline is 800.300.1080.  

A New Kind of Tech-Enabled Abuse: Deepfakes

One of the newer, more alarming types of digital abuse is called ‘deepfakes.’ A deepfake is a video of someone whose face or body has been digitally altered to make them look like someone else. Deepfakes are particularly dangerous because they can be used to make a person appear as if they are doing something they didn’t do or would not usually consent do on film.  

According to Amsterdam-based cyber security company, Deeptrace, 96% of deepfake videos on the internet are pornographic and most of the victims are women. And anyone can become a victim—celebrities Kristen Bell and Scarlett Johansson have both been victims of deep fake videos. 

Unfortunately, deepfakes are another way abusive partners exert power and control over their victims. Similar to revenge porn, where images or video that are actually of the victim, are distributed by a vengeful former intimate partner, deepfakes can be used in the same way without needing real footage of the victim. 

Abusive intimate partners may use deepfakes to humiliate the victim with friends or family. Explicit deepfakes have also been known to lead to endangering a person’s livelihood if they are shared widely. 

Deep fakes and other forms of image-based abuse are not always about revenge, though. My Image My Choice sums up the issue like this. 

It’s not all ‘revenge’ – people share images because they want sexual gratification, control, money, or because of voyeurism, extortion, misogyny, obsession. Some want increased social status and feel entitled to share these images for a laugh. Research on unsolicited images shows that some people believe it’s flattering or flirtatious.  

It makes us wonder, is the only answer to just hope we don’t become victims? One alternative solution is legislation.  

Just in the last two years, California passed two bills to address the issue of deepfakes, and one of them, AB 602, addresses the creation and distribution of sexually explicit deepfakes. Former laws in place did address the need for consent to distribute sexually explicit material, but deepfakes fell into a kind of loophole that needed to be closed. In 2022, the current administration launched a national task force focused on preventing online harassment and abuse with the intent to prevent and address technology-facilitated gender-based violence. 

Is there anything you can do to protect yourself from deepfakes? One recommendation out of the cyber security field is to use watermarks on the digital images you share online. This can make it more difficult for someone to make a realistic deep fake of you.  

How do you protect yourself from digital abuse? Share with the community in the comments section below. 

3 Ways Abusive Partners Use Tech to Outsource Abuse

Advances in technology have helped a lot, but what do we do when they’re used to harm?  

Digital abuse is more common than one might assume. One study found that 50% of people aged 14-24 have experienced digitally abusive behavior. When it comes to digital dating abuse, 1 in 4 say their significant other has checked text messages on their phone without permission, and 1 in 10 have had a significant other demand passwords to their online accounts. 

How do we protect ourselves from tech-enabled abuse and what should we look out for? Here are 3 ways abusive partners use technology to outsource abuse, and some tips to help you protect yourself. 

#1 Blocking Your Calls to Keep You Isolated 

The call-blocking feature on cell phones helps with filtering out spam callers but can be misused in the hands of the wrong person. 

If passwords have been shared or a phone is left unlocked, an abusive person can further isolate their victim by blocking calls and texts in seconds. Messages from friends or family members hoping to check in will go unseen and unknown to the victim and their contact. 

One of the tactics abusive partners use to further perpetuate abuse is isolating their victims. They may use abusive language or physical violence to deter the victim from connecting with family or friends who could help. Unfortunately, technology and modern cell phones make this tactic easier to accomplish. 

Safety tip: Periodically check to make sure any regular contacts have not been blocked.  

#2 Monitoring Your Communications  

Tracking a victim’s communications to maintain control is a common abuse tactic. Cell phones connected to shared online accounts may reveal phone numbers from outgoing calls and texts, even if they are deleted from the phone itself. Even full text messages can be stored in the Cloud or monitored by installed applications if the victim doesn’t notice them or they are hidden. 

Safety tips: Check if your any of your applications are hidden on your iPhone or Android. If your texts are being stored anywhere online, change your password so that only you have access. 

#3 Tracking Your Location 

Location tracking was developed for a host of helpful reasons. Tracking our phones helps us find them when they’re lost, and parents sometimes install location tracking applications on their children’s phones in the event of an emergency. 

Unfortunately, these kinds of applications have added to the list of options stalkers can use to monitor, locate, and harm their victims. 

Safety tip: Turn off location sharing in your phone’s settings. 

More on Staying Safe 

There’s a lot we can do to stay safe from digital abuse, but it takes community support to break cycles of abuse. If you are experiencing intimate partner abuse, you can call CORA’s 24/7 emergency hotline for support at 800.300.1080.  

Do you have other tips for how to stay safe from digital dating abuse? Share in the comment section below.