Next Tuesday, 6th February, is Safer Internet Day 2024. The online world is an important part of life for children and young people. Having regular and open conversations with them about their lives online is vital to ensuring that they have a safe and positive experience. With Safer Internet Day coming up, it’s an ideal time to check in with your teen, but for many parents it can be difficult to know where to start or how to begin the conversation.
Nobody understands the online world of children and teenagers better than their fellow young people! Based on their own online experiences, these Talking Points have been co-created by Irish teenagers to help parents approach the conversation in a way that will encourage your child or teen to open up about their life online!
The conversation starters will help you to get a better understanding of what your child is doing online, why, and how you can support them. Talking to them about their life online, just as you would about their offline life, will make it more likely that they will feel comfortable coming to you if they encounter anything that bothers them online.
Below are some talking points for parents created by Irish Teens to help you talk with confidence to your Teen about their life online:
1. Who is your favourite influencer on social media or what is your favourite online game?
Starting off with an easier question about what they like online will make your children or teenager feel comfortable and can be used as a springboard to a deeper conversation.
- What did you think of the recent story about [sports team/celebrity/influencer that your teenager is interested in] ? Talking about recent news events or trending topics online can be a natural way of easing into a conversation with your teenager and finding common ground.
- Can you show me how your favourite app/game works?
Showing an interest in what your child or teenager likes to do online will encourage them to be more open with you, and will help you learn and have a better understanding of what they like to do online.
- How do you stay connected with your friends online?
The social aspect of being online is very important to young people. It allows them to stay connected with their friends, and also to connect with communities with shared interests right around the world. This will help you to understand the social element for your child, and to be able to support them to have a safe and positive experience.
- What rules do you think we should have in place about using the internet.
It is helpful for families to have rules around internet use and guidelines around expected behaviour online. By allowing your teen to have a say in developing rules this can lead to a better understanding and acceptance of guidelines. It’s always helpful to revisit rules.
For Safer Internet Day 2024 Webwise is encouraging families to #TalkListenLearn. A great starting point is the Webwise Parents Hub (webwise.ie/parents) where you’ll find the new Parents Guide to a Better internet resource and lots more helpful tips and advice. Webwise are also encouraging families to have a chat using the topic generator – a helpful tool generator to begin open conversations free from judgement or criticism. Available here: https://talklistenlearn.webwise.ie
Webwise Parents Online Safety Checklist
- GET INFORMED
Get started by visiting webwise.ie/parents. You’ll find expert advice, how to guides, explainers and helpful talking points for parents.
- HAVE THE CHAT
Have regular conversations with your child on the important things to look out for online and any potential risks.
- AGREE RULES
Agree on a clear set of rules in your home about internet use and around screentime. Remember the importance of a healthy balance!
- ASK FOR HELP
Reassure your child that they can always come talk to you about anything that comes up online.
- LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Do as you say! Modelling behaviour is the most powerful way you can influence your child’s behaviour!
- JOIN IN!
The internet is a great resource for children! Play your child’s favourite computer game and discover the online world together.
Visit the Webwise.ie/Parents Hub for expert online safety advice, explainer guides, talking points and more.
This article was contributed by Webwise on behalf of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations. Webwise is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre. Go to www.webwise.ie for more information.