More and more children are choosing the online world to grow their friendship circles and form romantic relationships so, it’s now more important than ever to help them develop critical thinking to make safe choices with the people they interact with online.
Encouraging kids to seek support
One of the most important things is to ensure children talk to someone if they feel something isn’t quite right.
- If someone that they are connected to says or does something that makes them feel worried, upset or frightened they can and should take control, speak to someone and block or report them.
- If they can’t talk to you, make sure they have other trusted people and organisations they can talk to, to get the right advice.
- Children will be less inclined to share their concerns if they fear they will be told to stop using a certain platform, so it’s best to keep an open mind and work together to resolve any issues they face.
Conversations to have
- The changing nature of children’s interactions online, particularly with the rise of gaming, may mean that they will be talking to strangers so to help them stay safe, encourage them to trust their instincts if something doesn’t feel quite right then it probably isn’t.
- Advise them to think carefully about the information that they share, make sure they are not afraid to block someone or report them if they have concerns.
- Talk to your child about peer pressure so they don’t feel under pressure to do anything that they don’t feel comfortable with online.
- If your teen is online dating, use our Teens and Online Dating guide to equip them with the tools they need to make safe choices about who they talk to, what they share and who they trust to reduce exposure to potential online risks.
- Create an environment where children feel confident to share their concerns with you without the fear of being stopped from using a particular platform, game or online space. See our Conversation Starter Tips guide for support.
Things to do together
- Have a look at the ‘What is a friend’ activity and work through some of these with your child to help them build a good understanding of genuine friendship.