Talking to young people about their online lives is a key part of protecting them. Open and honest communication means that young people can get support if needed and talk about a part of their lives that is often very important for them. Whatever your level of knowledge or confidence, we have some straightforward tips for how to start, manage and maintain strong communication about life and safety online.
- Show an interest and tell your child they can come to you with anything.
Make a habit of talking about what you and your child are doing and enjoying online. Talking openly about life online makes it more likely that your child will feel able to come to you if anything worries or upsets them. It’s always useful to tell and remind your child that they can come to you with anything. Getting support quickly if they need it can stop young people struggling alone or things getting worse.
- Start with the positive.
It’s important to recognise and talk about all the positives the internet has for young people. Ask them what they enjoy online and remember that while their experiences may be different to yours, they are still significant. Showing that you understand some of the positive parts of life online can also make it easier for young people to talk about the negative.
- Be proactive not just reactive.
Be proactive about internet safety. Talk about what is and isn’t safe to share online as well as healthy and positive use of technology. It can be useful to talk to your child about staying critical online and to share ways that you check information or avoid scams. Ask young people how being online makes them feel and what they would do if something went wrong or made them feel upset or worried.
- Remind your child that if anyone they only know online asks them for photos or videos, for personal information or to meet up, then they need to come to you. It’s important that this gets reported to the police at www.ceop.police.uk.
- Listen and stay calm.
Although it may not be easy, stay calm if your child does come to you with an issue they are having online. If you are feeling shocked, angry or worried, it’s likely that your child is feeling even worse. It’s important that they know they can come to you for this kind of support and continue do so whenever they’re upset or worried.
- Know where to get support or information.
You don’t have to be an internet expert to support your child online. However, it can be useful to familiarise yourself with the apps and services they use and the available safety or parental settings. If you want to know more about a particular area, our hot topic advice pages for parents and carers give information and guidance around managing particularly relevant aspects of life online.
Open communication about life online is a key part of keeping young people safe. Our Parent and Carer's Toolkit provides further guidance for managing conversations, getting further information and support and setting boundaries with young people about life online.