Words of wisdom: Digital Families 2017

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Our Digital Families 2017 conference is nearly upon us. With expert speakers from a range of disciplines, the event will explore new and emerging risks that can affect children and young people in the digital age and the latest research into what works.

This conference is a great opportunity for teachers and other professionals working with young people to learn some effective responses to pass on to parents and carers. 

With digital resilience as a central theme of the day, we ask representatives from Parent Zone and CEOP, along with some of our expert speakers, to offer their top tips and advice for parents on how to help young people manage their online lives in a positive way.

Read more about all our speakers here


Vicki Shotbolt

CEO of Parent Zone a social enterprise supporting parents, schools and companies to make the internet work for families

Vicki Shotbolt

Remember that making mistakes and recovering from them is part of developing resilience. Children who never get anything wrong won’t learn how to recover, so try to celebrate their failures as well as their successes. 

Having control of their own actions helps children to develop resilience. Try not to jump in and rescue them every time - sometimes they need to figure it out for themselves and learn to fix things.


Marie Smith 

Head of Education at CEOP Command, NCA

Marie Smith

Consider whether your child is developmentally ready to be left unsupervised online, especially whilst live streaming or sharing images. Younger children can struggle to identify risks they may face whilst online and require supervision to learn these skills. Encourage young people to use their devices in spaces where some level of supervision is possible.

It’s always a good idea to remind your child to be wary of people they don’t know in the real world who want them to chat privately online. Offenders often encourage young people to move from a public forum, like a game, to more private chat apps or sites. Here, they can have private conversations that are less likely to be moderated.



Professor Andrew Przybylski

Experimental psychologist based at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII)

When making rules around tech make sure to include three things to help make them a success: 

1. Provide a meaningful rationale - explain where you’re coming from using language your child understands.

2. Use perspective taking - make it clear that you want to, and will be able to, see the rules through the eyes of your child. 

3. Avoid controlling language - try not to use words like ‘must’, ‘ought’ and ‘have to’ when framing the rule; emphasise aspects that maximise their choice.


John Carr

Secretary of the UK Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety 

Take the time to sit down with your child and ask them to show you all the apps and devices they use. Go through each one together and talk to them about who they speak to and what they do on each app. If your parental antennae start tingling and you feel uncomfortable with some aspect, then you may want to delve deeper.


Helen Keevil

Assistant Head in charge of pupil welfare at Epsom College, with a focus on online safety and wellbeing

If you’re uncomfortable or curious about something that you’ve seen online then talk about it openly rather than just switching off the screen or taking their device away from them.

Ultimately the internet is a tool both for good and bad, we just want to make sure young people are using the good much more than the bad. The bottom line is that the internet is not going away, we need to learn to live with it, but on our terms. Simply put, we need to keep our relationship with social media real.


Sonia Livingstone OBE

Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics

Ask yourself, does your child spontaneously invite you to look at or advise on what he or she does online? If not, consider whether there’s something you can change so that your child seeks your occasional support. If yes, consider whether you can also learn something from your child in those conversations.



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