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How to have the talk with your parents

Alert message sent 03/10/2019 10:07:00

Information sent on behalf of Wiltshire Police


There’s a wealth of information available to support digital parenting. But what about when you need to initiate the conversation in the opposite direction?

New research for Get Safe Online Week has shown that a third (33%) of adults have tried to have the online safety “talk” with their parents. This figure rises among younger people with half (51%) of 16-24 year olds having made an attempt to educate upwards.

The good news is that most conversations which have taken place have been received positively. In fact, nearly three quarters (72%) of respondents who had taken the plunge said their parents listened to what they had to say.

Here are four top tips for a constructive talk:

1) Talk about the impact: Parents might not always think about the impact their digital behaviour has on their children. Facebook is a safe space to share holiday pictures and family updates, right? Yet more than three quarters (77%) of 16-24 year olds have been left red-faced by something posted about them online, to say nothing of other potential consequences of having a digital footprint at a young age. Talking about the impact your parents’ social media updates have had on you will bring the issue into the real world.

2) Share practical tips: Go in armed with small, practical steps to be more digitally responsible online. The top five lessons 16-24 year olds would like to share with older generations are: how to spot spam/scam emails, how to not fall for phone scams, how to make sure their social media profile is set to private, the impact of oversharing on social media, and how to create a strong password. Check out our blog post on ‘Five digital lessons from Generation Z’ to find some practical tips to pass on.

3) Be open to a two-way conversation: If you’re striking up a conversation on how to be more responsible online, get ready to receive some advice in the other direction. According to our research, the majority (79%) of adults have some online safety advice they would like to pass on to younger people. Making sure they understand the dangers of sharing sexually explicit photos online is their top priority (48%). Digital responsibility must always be a two-way conversation to keep improving behaviours and ensure a safer use of the internet.

4) Don’t wait for a digital mistake: Nearly a quarter (24%) of 16-24 year olds§ have never tried to initiate a conversation with their parents because they don’t think they can tell them anything they don’t already know. But this can be a great starting point for an open discussion. Talk about other behaviours you might have seen online which you didn’t think were OK. This helps to set family boundaries and makes digital responsibility a normal topic of conversation.

This Get Safe Online Week, we want people of all ages to open up conversations around what digital responsibility means to them. Having the online safety “talk” is not something to feel nervous about. You might even find that your family member has been waiting for the right moment to pick your brains or share their own words of wisdom.
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Vicky Craig (Police, Communications Officer, Wiltshire)
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