Supporting your teen during the coronavirus lockdown

Our experts give parents conversation pointers about some of the growing challenges teens are facing due to the coronavirus lockdown. We ask our experts the following question:

What types of conversations should I have with my teen about their online life during the lockdown?

Mum and daughter talking on sofa smiling


It’s helpful to shift the focus away from ‘What are you doing online?’ to ‘What are we all doing online?’. Talk together as a family about the ways online life is supporting you at this time.
For example, it’s a good way to stay connected to friends, we can access content to help us exercise and relax and share content that makes us laugh.

On the other hand, too many news notifications can make us anxious, negative posts and fake news make us fearful, not setting personal boundaries around the amount of contact we have with others can make us feel stressed, and spending too much time online may mean we’re not getting enough sleep or fresh air. Make the online world work for you as a family, and schedule time offline together – preparing a meal, watching a film and playing board games are all a good place to start.

Dr Elizabeth Milovidov, JD

Law Professor and Digital Parenting Expert
Expert Website

Parents and carers should remember that the impact on teenagers is real. As normally social individuals who deal with adolescent dynamics on a daily basis, teenagers are understandably frustrated as they miss out on group activities, sporting events, hanging out with best friends at school and more.

For those teenagers that may have just started to date or to drive a car, these rites of passage have been dramatically taken away while families are on lockdown.

During lockdown, teenagers may swing from boredom and frustration to nervous and angry, while dabbling in other emotions on the way.

Here are some conversation starters related to the current lockdown:

  • I understand your frustration about not seeing your friends IRL, what ways can you connect and continue your friendships (or date) with online activities?
  • Can we create an online birthday party or high school dance for your friends? What other ways can we create fun online socialization with your friends?
  • How are things going with remote learning? Is there anything I can do to support you?
  • We are definitely going through stressful times and we know that eating right and exercising is still important. Have you seen any interesting apps that can encourage healthy habits?

You can also use this intensive time to delve into some of those challenging online topics, (such as unwanted contact, grooming, online pornography or sending nudes and sexting and online dating) or to remind them of the basics of internet safety.

You have the best opportunity to support your children in avoiding online risks and increasing online opportunities by keeping those conversations going.

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  • Eleanor Chawda says:

    I hope this message finds you well. I’m concerned about my thirteen year old son. He spends almost all of his time in his room. And also gaming, watching YouTube etc. This in turn has affected his sleep patterns.
    I tried to get him to do some activities in the garden, but as soon as he saw our neighbours he almost had a meltdown and bolted off inside again.
    I understand how it feels to be introverted. It worries me that I can’t get through to him and how he’s going to react to going back to school.

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