How to build digital resilience in your child

ONE IN FIVE CHILDREN would be happy to have an “online-only” relationship and never actually meet the other person, according to Internet Matters latest study.

The research also found that one in four 11-16 year-olds thought it would be easier to find love online than face to face. Of those asked who were already in a relationship, 10% said they only communicated online and a third of all asked said they spent time making pictures look perfect before posting them on social media.

Internet Matters carried out the survey to highlight the importance of children building up their digital resilience so they can deal with the emotional ups and downs of life online. It’s important that parents are aware of how the digital world is changing so they can start building their child’s digital resilience before they start to live out their social lives online.

Just like teaching a child to ride a bike or cross the road, digital resilience is another way parents can help their children cope with whatever the world throws at them.

But while there’s lots of conventional wisdom in place to help parents navigate life offline their role in the new digital age is less clear. That’s why building a child’s digital resilience is vital for parents to not only help keep their child safe online but empower them to navigate digital issues on their own. Whilst the majority of children see the role the internet plays as a positive thing when they build relationships, many children may not have the emotional maturity to understand some of the problems they might face.

Internet Matters’ new digital resilience toolkits, have been created by their ambassador and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos to provide a practical resource for parents to guide their children to not only cope with the challenges they face online but also know when to seek support.

As a parent you need to talk with your children about what they post and also how they feel about what their friends post online.

From the ages of around 6-10 a lot of the apps and games children use can be quite addictive. So, the very first part of digital resilience needs to be setting limits for screen time and ensuring they have the right parental controls so that they’re using the internet in a safe environment.

In order to help encourage them to be resilient, parents need to ensure their children are fully aware of what they’re doing online and understand how to be good digital citizen. A great way in to this is to talk about kindness online, in the same way you would offline. Encourage your child to tell an adult if something goes wrong.

Dr Linda’s advice lays out that at this age, it is vital that you let them know you’re the one who sets the boundaries and you’re the one who’s in charge.

The key to being digital resilient is that your child has to grow and be adaptable to new technology and new norms that come with their age-group. Digital Resilience is about preparing them for digital markers before they hit them, such as getting a first smartphone and the potential risks that may bring or when they hit their mid-teens, how the online world can affect their self-esteem.

Visit www.internetmatters.org/advice/ digital-resilience-toolkit to find all the age-appropriate toolkits and Dr Linda’s video guides to building a digitally resilient child.

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