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Ask an expert: What online issues should I be aware of as a parent with pre-teen or teenage children?

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Zoe E Breen Zoe E Breen | 13:18 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Answered by our panel of experts:

We need to be encouraging our children to be responsible when they use the Internet, and to treat others as they would like to be treated. We can do this by helping our young people to reflect on what sorts of information (photos, text or video content) they should share online, and why.

As children get older, parents should be talking to them about self respect, respecting their friends' privacy, assessing interactions online, the issue of having an online identity and a reputation that goes with that identity as well as what might be good public/private boundaries when having an online presence.

However, the Internet is also a very powerful tool to use to develop a positive presence, and parents need to realise the potential for this. In terms of behaviours like cyberbullying or sexting we should be encouraging our children to reflect on the very real consequences (social and emotional) of these actions.

In cases of sexting, many young people may share/ pass on nude images of their friends without any awareness that they could be prosecuted. There also isn’t a one size fits all solution so that children who are young may need different guidance to children who are teenagers.

Often parents also do not set boundaries in terms of time spent gaming online, or excessive use of Facebook. If a young person is facing some problems in real life, they could potentially seek out these activities all the time, in the place of face-to-face interaction.

It is therefore important that parents realise that they need to be having discussions with their children about these things, encouraging balance and setting boundaries where necessary.

If you are a parent and are worried about your teen or child over-sharing online visit the Share Take Care: Ask an expert page to read the advice our panel of experts gave other parents.

Visit the Share Take Care website for more information on help and support for parents.


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