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Having the chat: conversation starters for talking to your children about online safety

In all our parent presentations we emphasise the need for parents to keep engaged with their children, to play the games, watch the YouTube videos, cast an eye over the apps and keep on top of what their children are doing.



So much of our time as parents can be spent scolding about online lives: “What are you watching NOW? How long have you been on YouTube? Stop playing on that screen and go outside!”. But if we build up a positive and engaged relationship with our children around their digital lives, we are much more likely to be their first port of call if something goes wrong.


Often though, parents can feel at a loss as to how to start those tricky conversations. All children, but particularly older ones, are wary of a nosey parent and may not be keen to chat about the complexities of internet safety. Below we’ve compiled a list of great conversation starters that you can use with all age groups that will give you that coveted window into what they’re up to online.


Primary

  • ‘How does this game/app work? Can I play?’

  • ‘Which apps or games are you into at the moment?’

  • ‘Do you have any online friends?’

  • ‘Do you know where to go for help?’

  • ‘Have you ever seen any bad behaviour online? What did you see? What did you do about it?’

  • ‘Do you know where to go for help if something upsets you online?’ (remind them of you, or CEOP, or Childline, or a teacher)

  • ‘What kinds of things should we do to keep our personal information safe when we’re online?’

  • ‘What happens to what we say or send when we post it online?’


Secondary

  • ‘What apps/games is everyone using at your school? What’s the social media app of the moment?’

  • ‘Have you ever seen anyone scamming or tricking people online? What did you see/hear about?’

  • ‘How do you know that what you’re reading about is truthful or fake? What steps do you take to make sure you’re not reposting fake stories?’

  • ‘Do you know your limits?’ (You can talk about screen addiction, getting enough sleep, the endless scroll of social media’

  • ‘I heard about a girl getting tricked into sending nude selfies and then someone shared them without permission. I thought it was really sad. Have you ever heard about that sort of thing?’

  • ‘How do you know the person you’re chatting to online is who they say they are?’

  • ‘Do you think you could tell if someone was scamming/catfishing you? How?’

  • ‘Should we treat people differently online than in the real world? How?’

Sarah Smith

Foundation Speaker

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