But it’s vital to start these conversations as early as possible, so staying safe becomes second nature.
Cyber Expert and Psychologist Jordan Foster shares her most effective cyber safety conversation starters for parents of kids and teens;
1. How do you know who you’re chatting to is who they say they are?
‘Kids will easily stumble into conversations with people they don’t know in the real world’ explains Jordan. ‘They’re also very trusting of people, which means they’re most vulnerable to being catfished by online predators. Asking this question enables parents to engage in a constructive conversation with their kids, where they can explain how easy it is for people to lie online. I also suggest running a Google reverse image search to further demonstrate this point’.
2. What happens to what you say or send when you post it online?
‘This question always results in confusion’ explains Jordan. ‘Kids, and sometimes teens as well, give very little consideration to the permanence of online content - what goes online, stays online’. ‘It’s really important to explain and continually reiterate this message so that they understand that posting something inappropriate can easily come back to haunt them’.
3. Should you treat people differently online and in the real world?
‘Kids and teens often struggle to understand that their online behaviour has a similar impact to their real life behaviour’ says Jordan. ‘I find there are often two types of kids - those who feel that they can cyber bully because they won’t be found out and those who just don’t realise that their words can hurt’. ‘Starting this conversation will help you gauge very quickly what type of attitude your child has towards their online behaviour and in either case it’s vital to reiterate the concepts of empathy and a secondary question - how would you feel if someone said that to you?’.
4. What could you post or say online that would allow someone to find you?
‘This question helps parents understand their child’s sense of online stranger danger very quickly. If they can easily list off the different ways such as - posting photos in school uniform, using Snapchat’s Snapmap, or just outright telling online strangers where they go to school or where they live - then it’s fair to say they understand how easily online strangers can find them in real life’ explains Jordan. ‘A lack of understanding shows that they aren’t considering how to be careful and protect themselves online, in which case, parents have to continually reinforce the message’.
5. Do you want control over your life/emotions/reputation/happiness or do you want others/games to control it?
‘I have many clients struggling with compulsive and addictive behaviour around online gaming and social media. This question often helps them to consider how other things such as relationships and personal achievements add more value to their lives’ says Jordan.
Managing cyber safety can seem difficult, but Family Zone and our team of Cyber Experts are here to help. Our parental controls offer parents peace of mind when their kids are online and the ongoing advice provided by experts, including Jordan, ensures they stay on top of new trends and online risks.