Teaching kids what they need to know to be best prepared for Internet safety isn’t an easy task for parents. To start with, parents need to form that super-charged connection with their kids so they have BIG influence. One way to connect AND influence is to sprinkle hot tech topics into everyday conversation. My GetKidsInternetSafe blog conveniently serves up weekly information to fuel connecting conversation. Worried about Internet predators, cyberbullying, and online porn? Teach them the assertiveness and problem-solving skills during your chats. Fueling that connection while implementing powerful parenting strategies like those offered in the GKIS Home Starter Course create an effortless GKIS family culture. Wondering how to get them jazzed and engaged? Here are some quick tips on how to get the conversation started:
Create an open, honest, and positive family environment.
- If your kids have a different opinion than yours, have a sense of humor and go with it. Don’t scold or shame them. Encourage them to try out different perspectives.
- Each person shares the HIGH part of their day and the LOW part of the day. This is a tried-and-true conversation starter!
Start young but recognize it’s never too late to get started.
- Consider the age of your child and simplify your language accordingly, but don’t be afraid to talk to little ones about hot topics. Sharing your values, opinions, and problem solving style is an awesome opportunity to connect and teach.
Get out there and get tech-savvy.
- Before your child gets a social media app, test it out first so you know the in’s and out’s. Be eager to let them teach you.
Seek them out to share funny memes and videos.
- This will quickly become a fun two-way street, an awesome opportunity to engage and stay engaged!
Initiate the conversation with the intention to listen.
- Don’t lecture, shame, or threaten. If you start with “kids these days…” you’re headed in the wrong direction. Connect rather draw lines between you.
Inform them about hot topics.
- Get in the habit of collecting current event “stories” from on the GetKidsInternetSafe blog or in news media (“Did you hear about the Dad who posted a video on YouTube shaming another dad?”).
Structure conversations about complex situations as a series of legitimate options.
- Stress that there is rarely one “right” way to respond and that you celebrate mistakes and failures. That’s how we all learn.
Recognize that, in fact, “everybody” IS doing it even if you won’t let them.
- Have empathy for their dilemma but still stay firm.
- Look for demonstrations of good moral reasoning, assertiveness, and leadership and be generous with worthy compliments.
Don’t scare them but share that people are often inappropriate and unsafe to talk to online.
- Role-play how to assertively manage these situations. For example, teach them how flattery is used as a manipulation technique.
Can’t figure out how to bring up an uncomfortable topic?
- Let your kids “overhear” a conversation with your partner at dinnertime. Yes, the walls do have ears.
- Be prepared to have many small conversations over time rather than one big one.
And there you have it! Some actionable, easy ideas for how to be awesome, even at the end of the day when you feel like an overworked, bedraggled turnip. Please don’t forget to say hi to me on Facebook. I’ve been a little social media lonely lately.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetYourKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty