The universality of the Internet makes it an incredible networking tool for youth—a place where they can share and socialize with peers. But that same universality has the potential to create uncomfortable environments for youth. On social platforms, individuals have the capability to mask their identities and invent particulars about themselves. Some youth may feel apprehensive forming relationships with people they do not know personally. Not all uncomfortable online interactions are limited to strangers. Many youth may feel uncomfortable after encountering inappropriate content or receiving harassing comments from people they know.
As a parent, you are your child’s first defense. Researchers at Pew Internet found that parents have the biggest influence on what children view as appropriate or inappropriate when going online (click to tweet). This is great news for parents! Your child trusts you and values your advice. Now that you know your child is listening, be sure do all you can to protect them online.
• Talk frequently about their experiences online:
Just as you would talk to your child about how school went, ask about their interactions online. Make sure that they are positive and uplifting.
• Let your child know that you are listening:
Your child should feel safe approaching you when something happens online that makes them feel uncomfortable
• Be understanding:
Regardless of the situation, your child has come to you for help, so be sympathetic and work together to help your child feel comfortable again online.