In this blog post, Victoria from the YoungMinds Parents Helpline talks about how to help children and young people be more digitally resilient.
Children and young people spend an average of 12 hours a week online and it is part of their routine from a young age. It can be challenging for parents to feel as though they can keep their children safe online while also enabling them to make their own decisions about using the internet sensibly and keeping themselves safe. Every parent knows their child best and this should help to guide you when you are making decisions about your child’s internet use or you are having conversations with them about online safety. Here are our tips for parents who are looking to build their child’s digital resilience and their ability to manage risks online.
Create a supportive environment
Sit down with your child when things are calm and there are no distractions to talk about their internet use. It is a good idea to have regular conversations about internet use from an early age.
Support and interest from parents is a key part of a child’s development and this includes their online skills. Show that you support them using the internet for homework, research and keeping in touch with family and friends. Taking an interest in what they are doing online will encourage them to talk to you if they do have any concerns.
Have open conversations
Talking openly about using the internet and online safety helps your child to understand why there are boundaries when using the internet. If the child understands why they shouldn’t be doing something then they are more likely to think twice when they are faced with decisions when using the internet.
- Talk about online safety. The internet can be used to communicate with friends and family in a positive way but not everything on the internet is true and some content needs to be checked with a trusted adult to make sure it is safe. Talk to them about not speaking to strangers online and not accepting people they do not know onto their friend lists.
- Explore with your child what is meant by personal information in order to develop an awareness of why it is significant and why it should not be shared without a trusted adults consent.
- Ask your child to teach you about their favourite apps, games or social media websites. This will give you an understanding of how they work will help you to have informal conversations around your child’s internet use.
- Have discussions about online risks and how your child can spot them before they arise. Let them know what to do if something is worrying them online and encourage them to talk to you if they have concerns.
It is important to have clear boundaries around your child’s internet use. Try to agree together how much time they will spend on the internet, which websites they can use and rules around sharing images online.
Try to give them some free time to use the internet and explore online but stay involved and make sure you are aware of what websites and apps they are using and who they are talking to online.
You can set up parental controls to stop your child from accessing harmful content online. Make sure you still monitor what your child is doing on the internet and if they are staying safe.
Keep it up!
Having short regular conversations about internet use will help to build your child’s digital resilience and awareness of online safety. Showing an interest in what they are doing online will help your child feel that they can share any concerns they have with you and they are more likely to feel confident about staying safe when