The internet and its accessibility have come with the good and the bad. It acts as a near bottomless resource center for us to increase our knowledge base. In the other end, it is home to content that can prove harmful or is downright dangerous. You want your child to enjoy the former, but it means that there’s what you need to do on your part to mitigate the risks that come with being online. Here are tips for new parents to help them navigate this space and avoid trouble online.
Have an honest conversation
Getting ahead of a curious mind makes your child more likely to apply self-control when they come across problematic content. Children hear things from other children, and they are likely to search on the internet terms they heard on the playground. Therefore, as parents, introduce words like nudity, sex, and guns to their vocabulary so that they can know what to avoid should they accidentally stumble on it.
Mind the tone
You don’t’ want to instill fear in your child about the internet. That means keeping the tone conversational and pleasant, but still ensuring that they understand the seriousness of the topic. Social experiments with children have shown that forbidding them from doing something makes them all the more curious about it. Calmly explain to them your concerns, even when you’ve caught them in the corner of the internet they should not be in, removes the shame and guilt. It makes them more willing to obey you when they know that you’re merely looking out of them.
Look out for signs of bullying and depression
Trolling is a reality when online. The anonymity makes it easy for a 12-year-old masquerading as HST Lawyer to bully people and get away with it. Therefore, become more watchful of the mood your child is in after being online. Create a space for them to come and share their concerns with you as you help them move through the emotions they may be going through.
In the same way, watch for signs that your child is depressed or has become increasingly discontent with their lives. Studies of adults on social media have shown that people generally tend to walk away with a cloud of depression over their heads. That comes from comparing their current lives to someone’s highlight reels. Let your children know that’s not the full picture. It will help them become aware of how they feel when scrolling the feed and remind themselves to remain positive.
Ultimately, only you know what’s best for your child. There is no rule book for guiding your child online. Aim to keep communication lines open with your child as it will help you keep them safe.