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The Big Issues – talking to your children about difficult digital topics by Angela Rees

Adult content

Let's face it, no one wants to talk to their children about adult content. In fact if we were playing cringe-worthy-parent-moments top-trumps, this beats them all. The trouble is, no matter how good our home internet parental controls are, you only need to walk around the magazine aisle of a supermarket to expose your child to an abundance of adult images. It's something we need to talk about and I'd rather brave my inevitable blushes than let someone else talk to my kids about it first.

Top tips for broaching the subject

Keep it age appropriate. If your children are very young, you can talk to them about respect for their own body and respect for other people. You can also reassure them that they can talk to you about anything.

Prepare yourself

Think about what messages you do and don't want to get across to your child. You certainly don't want to inspire them to go searching for it but you do want them to know that they can talk to you if they have seen something they are worried or upset about.

Conversation starters

The human body is amazing and beautiful and comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. Relationships should be between adults who love and care about each other.

For more information and details of how to set up tough parental controls on computers, phones and devices go to http://www.internetmatters.org/issues/pornography.html#learn

Cyber bullying

This is when someone uses technology like texting, online chat rooms and social networks to bully someone. Children may find it hard to talk about cyber-bullying so it's important to let them know that they can talk to you about anything.

Top tips for broaching the subject

Stay calm. Children need to know that you'll listen without judging or threatening to deal with a bully yourself.

Conversation starters

Who's sent you a message today? What did you talk about?

How to deal with it

  • Keep the evidence, find out how to take screen shots on http://www.take-a-screenshot.org.
  • Don't punish the victim by removing internet access or phone use as fear of this may prevent children from wanting to tell you if something is going on.
  • Do monitor internet access and phone use and take an active interest in what's going on.
  • Don't feed the trolls. As with all bullies, ignoring them is a good tactic.
  • Talk about why people bully others, bullies are usually insecure with low self esteem, if your child can understand this they will feel better about themselves.
  • Un-friend and block anyone who is causing distress. You can block callers and texters as well as on-line "friends".

You can find lots more info about cyber-bullying on http://www.internetmatters.org/issues/cyberbullying.html and http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/online-bullying.aspx

For these and other difficult topics spend some time with your kids looking at http://www.kidsmart.org.uk or http://www.childnet.com/young-people and remember that the most important thing is to talk about it.

If you're not sure about any techy terms, check out our jargon buster

 

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