Author Lighthouse Internet Guardian
As you probably know, when you're signed up to Lighthouse, you receive a monthly report which gives you a summary of your child's internet usage over the past month. You'll have an overview of the ten sites most visited by your child, any attempted access to flagged sites and the amount of content which has been blocked. This report equips you with insight into your child's internet activity without policing their every move. The question is, when you spot something concerning on your Lighthouse report, what are the next steps? Here's how to chat to your children about their internet activity.
The first step is to process the information yourself, and be sure that you will be able to chat to your child in a calm and nurturing way. If you don't feel like you're able to bring up the subject and keep your cool, perhaps your child's other parent should be tagged in. If Lighthouse was running behind the scenes, you have peace of mind that the chance that your child has seen graphic or disturbing content is unlikely. However, if they are repeatedly trying to access something inappropriate, you should still engage in a conversation about the content they're trying to see.
Choose a time that will give you and your child privacy, and a safe space to talk and share your feelings. Bring up the topic in a non-threatening way. You don't want your child to shut down, or believe that you think that they're 'bad' Remain approachable and open so that they know they can speak to you about difficult topics in the future. For example, you could start off by saying, "I saw that you visited a website that isn't made for kids your age. You're not in trouble, I just want to chat about what you saw, and how you got there."
There's a good chance your child didn't go looking for the content. They could have been led there by a perfectly innocent source, like Instagram or a YouTube video. Uncover how it is they got there, and perhaps together you can prevent it from happening again. As an example, many young gamers like to watch videos of adult gamers playing a game. The adult conversation in the video could spark their curiosity. By avoiding certain gaming personalities, and sticking to kid-friendly ones, this kind of exposure can be avoided.
If your child was specifically looking for something, find out what the motivation was. What made them want to know more about the topic they were searching for? Tell them that you're open to chatting about things that they want answers to, because the internet isn't always the best place to go looking for answers. Let them know that the internet has some information that isn't made for kids, stuff that isn't true, and a lot of what's out there isn't realistic. Prove it by asking them more about what they were after, and explain why you would rather not have them visiting these kinds of sites.
To keep conversation open and honest, casually check in with your child once in a while. Ask what they've seen on the internet recently that was funny, scary or weird. It's a good way to initiate conversation they may be curious about.
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