Oct 20, 2018
by editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée
The internet can seem scary. Especially for parents.
However, an environment that is open, honest, and nonjudgmental can encourage your children to tell you what might be bothering them. It is also key to staying more aware of their digital activities, providing you with more opportunity to you catch “red flags” sooner rather than later. This connected relationship is the most effective way to keep your children safe and well.
1. Talk early and often
With your goal being a connected long-term relationship, the sooner you nurture an open, honest, and supportive relationship, the better. And starting when they are toddlers is not too early! Make frequent "dates" to connect.
With topics that may not be age-appropriate, less may be more. Just answer questions with facts, and keep responses to risky topics bite-sized, sharing just what answers their questions and is relevant to them. Your goal is to nurture trust and intimacy, so they feel that you are on their side. This takes years to cultivate and establish. And it's never too early or late to start.
2. Pick the right time
The best conversations with children often occur when you are naturally spending time together: at dinner, cleaning dishes, before bedtime, or during long car rides. So plan on making the weekly time to be around them, even without a planned activity.
3. Open up
The best way to encourage your children to open up to you is for you to start. Share your concerns and struggles, and how you worked through them.
4. Create a safe-space
A big goal should be to have your child feel heard, seen, and known. Be mindful of reacting in ways that may lead your child to feel judged, wrong, or scolded. Aim to be a calm and compassionate listener, and appreciate that they are sharing (even if it's upsetting updates)!
When they start talking, hold off on asking your questions. Listen first. When you do ask questions, strive to make them feel safe and supported (even if something is wrong).
Using the tips outlined above, consider talking to your child about these topics::
1. Online reputation
It is important that your child understands that any online activity creates a “digital footprint” that can last forever. Discuss being careful about what they post, and treating people with kindness and respect, like they would face-to-face.
2. Critical thinking
Some online users create fake profiles to trick children into doing something they otherwise wouldn’t. Discuss online dangers, so that they can be informed and critically assess what they see online.
3. Personal safety
Create strong passwords for every account in order to keep personal information secure. Discuss what information should and should not be disclosed online in order to maintain personal safety. Show your child what a good, safe profile looks like.
4. Dealing with online issues
Cyberbullying and inappropriate content are common. Your child should be aware of when and how to report these issues, both online and offline.
5. The good parts
Talk to your child about topics they enjoy. It's more likely that kids will open up once they start talking about topics of interest. Ask about their favorite apps, games, and sites, as well as what’s popular among their friends. This can help parents to stay aware of their child's digital lives.
The internet doesn’t have to be scary. Creating an open, honest environment for discussions can help parents stay involved in your child's digital activities and identify concerns early. Work on having your children feel that they can ask and tell you anything, and you will still love and support them.
Talk to children early, often, and during times when you’re naturally spending time together. Open up to your child and share things about your own life. When they’re ready to talk, refrain from interrupting with questions. Instead, listen to what they’re saying to create the feeling of a safe supportive conversation. Discuss online reputations, critical thinking, personal safety, dealing with online cyberbullying and inappropriate content, and the good parts of online activities.
Would you like to join a community of like-minded conscious consumers as well?
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Each month, we will "meditate" on a body part or system. The goal is to connect with our body, senses, and symptoms to rely on this curiosity and "listening" as guidance for a gentle, detox journey.
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