It can be difficult to start the conversation with your child about what they are doing online or who they might be talking to, but it is oh so important. and you can learn it!
Use this checklist to start a conversation with your child about apps and online behavior:
Start a good conversation
Talking regularly, as you would about their school day, will help your child feel comfortable about this topic.
That is necessary to be able to come to you if they are worried about something.
It can help to:
- Reassure them that you are interested in their lives, offline and online. Recognize that they will use the Internet to research homework and talk to their friends.
- Asking them to show you what they like online or apps they use so you understand them.
- Be positive about their interests, but also open about anything that worries you and why. You could say “I really like this site” or “I'm a little worried about things I've seen here”.
- Ask them if they have any concerns or have experienced something strange and let them know they can come to you.
- Asking them about their online friends, how they met them and how they know they are who they say they are.
- Listen to your child's reasons for wanting to use apps or sites you don't think are appropriate so you can watch and talk about them together.
- Ask your child what they think is okay for children of different ages so that they feel involved in the decision-making process and know where they might need to grow.
How might my child feel when we talk about online safety together?
For kids, online life is real life.
It can help to think about how your child might feel by having them share what they are doing online before you talk to them with rules.
Some emotions they may feel are:
- uncomfortable to talk about it
- worried you're taking something away
- annoyed that you don't understand
- confused that you suddenly start talking about it
- glad they can finally get rid of something
Make it recognizable
Approaching the subject is a bit like how one would approach the subject of the flowers and the bees.
Rather than jumping in at random, it's best to find openings to dive into the subject in a way that your child can relate to.
For example, wait for them to ask you questions. Maybe they received a friend request on a social media site from someone they don't know. Use this opportunity to talk to them about privacy and internet safety.
Another way is to create such opportunities yourself.
For example, after you've taken some selfies with your kid, you can ask them if they think it's okay to post the selfie on Facebook.
Research with them to further consider the implications of such actions and how they can protect themselves online.
Also use our online safety talking points checklist in the next section to get the conversation started.