Your child has seen something awful online. Now what?

If your child is online, it’s not a question of if they will see disturbing content. It’s a question of when

Suicide streamed live. Beheadings. Animal abuse. Violent pornography. The internet is a showcase for the best - and the very worst - of human behaviour. 

Just recently, TikTok hit the headlines with news that a video featuring a graphic suicide was flooding the app and being seen by children. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-04 at 11.30.54 AM

Incidents like this one have become tragically common - and they raise so many questions for digital parents. What should you do if your child sees upsetting material online? How do you report it? How do you talk to your child about it? And how can you help to prevent it from happening again?

We asked cyber expert and former NSW police officer Yasmin London from ySafe - Australian’s leading cyber safety educators - for advice on navigating  this challenging aspect of digital parenting.

TIP 1  Minimise exposure and exercise discretion. 

If you’ve learned about disturbing viral content online, warns Yasmin, don’t talk to your child about it unless they’ve actually seen it. Your good intentions could inadvertently pique their curiosity - and lead them to seek out confronting material that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

Yasmin London

Assuming that they have viewed something disturbing, follow these evidence-based steps:

INCIDENT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

Calm yourself first.  Don’t be tempted to skip this step. Your job is to defuse the situation and re-establish a sense of security for your child. They will pick up on your levels of stress - so take a bit of time to breathe deeply and compose yourself before setting out to learn the facts.

Cyber expert Yasmin London

Ask your child questions about what they thought they saw. The best way to begin is simply to say “Tell me what you saw.” Don’t assume - and don’t reveal any unnecessary details.

Then, ask them how they feel about what they saw. Remember that older kids may be reticent about sharing feelings of vulnerability: fear, shock, confusion. Be sure to read non-verbal cues as well as what is said in words.

Problem-solve together. Help your child to think things through critically, whether through fact-checking together online or explaining the context behind the content. 

For example, if a young child has viewed pornography, it can be helpful to explain that not all information on the internet is real, and that a lot of it is pretend and simply acted by adults. You might try explaining that a lot of images and videos online — just like movies — are exaggerated versions of real life that are designed to shock. 

TIP 2  Take action and report inappropriate content. You can report inappropriate content through the platform, Crime Stoppers or the eSafety Commissioner. It can be important for your child to see you take proactive steps to deal with disturbing content. 

TIP 3  Secure devices with effective parental controls. Strong, sophisticated parental controls will automatically block many forms of inappropriate content  - explicit pop-ups, sites that feature violence or hate speech, pornography sites and much more, according to the settings you select. At ySafe, we recommend Family Zone as the gold standard in cyber safety.

TIP 4  Use the incident to reinforce the reason rules are in place. “Never let a crisis go to waste,” someone wise once said. If your child has seen something disturbing online, take the opportunity to underscore the reason for setting online boundaries.

shutterstock_439292611

TIP 5  Assure them that you aren’t taking their technology away.  One of the biggest reasons that children fail to confide in their parents about trouble online is the fear they will lose their devices. Reassure your child that you understand the important role technology plays in her life, and that you can help without removing access to platforms or their devices.

TIP 6 Be proactive when it comes to your own online safety education. Knowledge is power - and when it comes to digital parenting, knowledge is also love, protection and an essential component of your duty of care.

For further resources around cyber safety and kids’ mental and emotional health, check out these helpful organisations:  

 

In Australia 

eSafety Commissioner

Beyond Blue

Lifeline

eHeadspace 

Suicide Callback Service

 

In New Zealand 

Youthline

Kidsline

Lifeline

Healthline

Mental Health Foundation

Netsafe

Confront The Confronting webinar - Select a time

When it comes to strong, simple parental controls Family Zone is the gold standard.

Find out why, and start your free trial today!

Tell me more!

Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Pornography, Mobile Apps, Cyber Safety, suicide, hate speech, violence

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | teens on social media
    Can we talk? 100 questions your teen might actually answer
    Parental Controls | Screen time | youtube | smartphones | WhatsApp | suicide | self-harm | momo
    MOMO unmasked
    Parental Controls | Screen time | online gaming | roblox | sleep
    Family Zone: Now blocking Roblox with a single click
    Parental Controls | Screen time | teens on social media | wellbeing | dating app
    Swipe right for trouble: Six teen dating apps parents need to know about
    Cyber Bullying | Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | online predators | tiktok | paedophile | child predator | Likee
    LIKEE: What parents need to know about this risky TikTok wannabe

    Recent posts

     
    Press the reset button on your kid’s online routine

    COVID blew up our teens’ screen-time. It’s time to get them back on track. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, our children are facing a ...

     
    Bigger families face super-sized screen-time challenges

    If you have more than one child - and statistics show 86 percent of families do - then managing screen-time can be double trouble. Or ...

     
    'Bigorexia' a growing risk for today's boys

    We’re starting to understand how social media can damage girls’ self-esteem - but what about our boys? New research finds disturbing ...

     
    The metaverse: Brave new world - or an upgrade for predators?

    Mixing kids and adult strangers in a self-moderated online environment ... What could possibly go wrong?