The online world comes with so many amazing possibilities. Opportunities to connect with people you would never usually connect to if not for dating apps, social media and forums. Share things we are interested in and find like minded people, play games, be creative the list goes on!
It is important to consider the online world in a balanced way, there are benefits and there are risks not dissimilar to the ‘real’ world. Therefore, when addressing things like online safety and boundaries with young people we need to present balanced view points.
Having conversations is vital in supporting young people to stay safe online. Leading the conversation with open questions, taking a genuine interest in what their online lives are like in a non judgemental way can give you a good insight into your child/ young person behaviour online. You will probably end up learning something new!
I wanted to give some quick do’s and don’ts on talking to young people about digital boundaries
•Do ask questions. Open, genuinely interested questions for example
oWhat do you enjoy doing online?
oWhat are the best things about it?
oWhat are some things you don’t like about it?
oAre there any risks you know about?
oDo you have any tips for me about how to stay safe? Where did you learn these tips?
oWhat things are ‘ok’ to share and what things are not?
Once you have some more information and know about the apps and online content your child accesses you can always check dangers of certain apps on Net aware net-aware.org.uk.
This gives you a better understanding of the risks surrounding apps you may not be familiar with and inform your conversations!
•Do reassure them that they can always come to you if they see anything that upsets them online. Do they know where to find the safety advice, privacy settings and how to report or block on the services they use.
•Do model digital boundaries. We learn an awful lot from observing. A great way to engage and discuss digital boundaries is by creating a family agreement. This can be done with children of any age and helps them to have ownership over the conversation. An example of a digital boundary you could include in a family agreement is “can you ask me before you tag me in a photo on Facebook.” This demonstrates boundaries and consent in a digital space.
Here is a link to childnets version on the family agreement childnet.com/ufiles/Family-...
•Don’t worry if you don’t know the terms. Language and slang is constantly evolving and changing. If you don’t know a word just ask what it means, we also have a glossary of terms specifically about online dating on our website which could come in handy! brook.org.uk/your-life/onli...
•Don’t let this be a one off conversation. Things are changing all the time and so will your child or young persons online life. It’s important to talk regularly
Emily Yates of Enhance The UK shared her experiences of online dating with a disability with us, here’s a link to the page
Feel free to leave questions relating to digital boundaries below!