Online Identity Series

Supporting children and young people

Internet Matters Ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos shares advice for parents and carers to help children and young people be more authentic online and build an online identity that reflects them positively as they become more active online.

Dr Linda Online identity series

What you’ll find in this video series

There are pressures teens face online at a critical time when they are exploring and developing their identity. Watch our video series to learn more.

Helping young people be who they really are online

Helping young people be who they really are online
Display video transcript
The interesting thing with establishing an identity online is that you kind of have this ready-made focus group telling you how well you're doing right so if you're posting pictures you're getting lots of likes you learn very quickly that that's the person I'm supposed to be but what we're trying to say here is you're trying to get your kids to be more authentic online now an inevitable consequence of that is that they may not get all the likes that they had before they not get the same kind of validation so speaking to your kids about the importance of being authentic regardless of how many likes they get regardless of how many followers is really really important because what you're trying to imbue in them is a sense that you're trying to construct the person you want to be which reflects a person you really are rather than living up to these external expectations from people that don't know you and don't have a vested interest in you becoming the best version of yourself.

`{`Music`}`

How does online identity affect what information is seen online?

How does online identity affect what information is seen online?
Display video transcript
I think the other really interesting issue with online identity is that it very much directs the information that that we engage with and I think this is particularly relevant with young people because establishing an identity gives them a real sense of not just who they are but kind of you know a badge to hold up to those around them what tends to happen is they want to engage with as much information around that identity as possible so whether it's sort of a sport they're engaging in or a hobby you know that's the stuff they're focused on and while that's fine to a point what we need to be careful of is that they don't kind of engage in these echo chambers we know that there's a lot of grooming that goes on online whether we're talking about political affiliations extremist affiliations or you know other sort of detrimental ideas and if you're constantly reading just in one area if you're constantly watching videos just in one area if you're constantly engaging with just one type of viewpoint or person the that's not only detrimental to how you're seeing the world but more importantly to how you think you ought to think about the world so speaking to your children about the importance of varied viewpoints of curating their consciousness so they're getting information from different areas challenging them about why this one aspect of identity is important is really really key in allowing them to to develop a more balanced idea of who they are and really importantly who others expect them to be.

How do we create our online identity?

How do we create our online identity?
Display video transcript
Online identities the way that we present ourselves online so in the same way that offline you think about what you wear and how you speak and even quirky things like the kind of music you listen to are the people you hang out with you do this online as well but
because online is somewhere you can control it kind of takes sort of a different form I think it's really important that parents understand the difference between constructing identity online and offline I think the critical difference is that a lot more people have access
to your child's identity online a lot more people that you don't know that your child doesn't know and worryingly sometimes people don't have a vested interest in allowing your child to develop a healthy identity around things that really reflect who they are as such
whereas offline we tend to kind of deal with identity construction with a peer group that understands us online it's very much about living up to scripts about how we should look what we should have and who we should be and I think for that reasons it's critical
parents understand the difference.

`{`Music`}`

How does pressure from others shape who we are online?

How does pressure from others shape who we are online?
Display video transcript
Identity is a really interesting thing because at the same time it's what makes us different but it's also the thing that binds us with other people and as a consequence of that when you're online there's a sense that you want to kind of connect with the community and so kind of adjusting your identity to be able to do that is key now while some of this is is normal and it's you know potentially safe and as a self-expression there comes a point where if you're constantly trying to live up to the expectations of others the shoulds and the have to's of the online world then there's a danger in that and I think it's for that reason precisely that when it comes to identity construction parents need to have these discussions with their kids.

Tips to help young people navigate their online world

Tips to help young people navigate their online world
Display video transcript
I think there's a lot of things that parents can do to help their child law navigate the online world especially when it comes to identity construction I think first and foremost it's getting them to think critically about why they're posting what they're posting right so for many young people it's kind of the thing to do other people are taking pictures of their yogurt and their lunches I'm gonna take pictures of my yogurt and lunches and that's fine but it's great to kind of sit down and discuss what are you trying to say you know about this especially when it comes to the way they're portraying their their bodies so for example for a lot of young girls feeling pressure to kind of portray themselves you know looking a certain way or wearing certain clothes you know asking the question about why that is where does this come from how do you think people are going to see you do you feel you need to do this so really not allowing them to be kind of passive agents of what they present but more active agents I tink also it's important that parents speak to their kids about privacy and safety online constructing identity means you know sharing a bit of who you are with the people around you and while that's fine to a point there comes a place when you need to discuss what does that mean in terms of your safety in terms of your privacy so kind of raising those important issues is critical.

`{`Music`}`

How to be a positive digital role model

How to be a positive digital role model
Display video transcript
Your children will take their cues from what you do many times online as well I think this is especially true when it comes to portraying ourselves our family's identity so I think I'd really spend some time speaking to two kids about for example your decision to keep your account open or closed so is it just people that know us that you know we're posting pictures of our holidays - or is it everyone so really kind of have a thoughtful conversation about that likewise you know it may be a great moment to have a conversation about why you wouldn't want to post for example your address outside so people could see it it's really important that kids kind of understand that there's a thoughtfulness behind it and for some parents it may be that you know they just use their social media for their work great to speak to your kids about that for other parents it may be a way that they use social media for really connecting with friends and family they don't see very often great to speak to your kids about that but either way I think the message is you're thinking about what you're posting before you post it and if you can imbue that in them then it's great.

`{`Music`}`

Supporting resources and guides

Scroll Up