It’s likely that you and your family will be spending more time online in the coming weeks or months, so here are our best tips to make the most of your days at home:
- Start a conversation about what your kids and teens like to do online. Visit the apps and games they use most frequently and ask them to show you how they work. It’s also a good opportunity to make sure they have the right privacy settings in place. If they don’t, help set them up.
- Recognize that chatting or playing games online may be their only form of social contact. Many young people will be isolated from their friends during this time. Again, make sure you double-check their privacy settings and that you know who they’re talking to.
- Be mindful of their time online. Encourage them to take frequent breaks and swap their online and offline activities regularly. Is spending time online meaningful and fun, or just time-filling?
- Talk about how they would manage something that made them feel uncomfortable online. Make sure they know how to report issues on the apps and games they use and reassure them that they can talk to you too.
- Be aware of online bullying. The downside of more time spent online is the increased potential for negative experiences. Watch for changes in your kids’ behavior that may indicate they’re being bullied. Be gentle and reassuring and offer to help. If they’d like you to act, then follow through, but respect their decision if they ask you not to. You could make things worse for them.
- If you suspect your kid is being mean online, address their behavior immediately. While it may seem like an obvious punishment, now may not be the best time to take away their devices. This could lead to them feeling isolated and lonely. Instead, set tighter rules on what they can and cannot do online, and help them change their behavior. Ask questions: why did they behave that way? Have they ever experienced bullying? How did it make them feel? This is a teachable moment that will stay with them.
- Stay active. Find some time to integrate physical activity into their daily routine, whether it’s playing catch outside in the backyard or taking a fun dance lesson together on TikTok.
- Beware of misinformation about COVID-19. Help your kids find reliable sources (government websites, for example), answer their questions, and talk honestly with them about the situation.
You can find more online safety tips and advice for staying at home on our Facebook page.