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It can be challenging to teach our tweens how to interact online safely, responsibly, and without constant oversight. Part of the reason for this is that there is no roadmap for teaching these skills.  This is where TDSU comes in.

We believe that just pointing out to your child that there are specific expectations, skills to learn, and ways to go about practicing online interactions in a safe and supportive environment is a big first step! By laying the foundation and making your child a partner in the process you are increasing their awareness and expectations about how people interact online.

But what do you do when it feels like your child just isn’t getting it?

Here are some things to think about:

  1. Remember to point out to your tween what they are doing right!  Learning new skills takes time and effort, and even the smallest gains are important to acknowledge.  Our Accentuate the Positive activity is a great way to remind your child (and you!) of all the progress they are making.  
  2. Does your child really understand why it is important to learn how to be safe and responsible while online?  One thing  you could do is share some news stories about real life consequences of misguided or inappropriate online behaviors. Opening up this conversation shows your child that this topic is something you take seriously and is something worth committing time and energy to learning about. 
  3. Is your child struggling to assimilate some of the Thumbs Down skills? Maybe it is time to take a step back and review some of TDSU’s more basic concepts.  You can find these in our activities that are marked “Get Started.”
  4. Did you and your tween have an agreement about the boundaries for their online interactions, but they aren’t sticking to the plan?  Maybe they believe they are ready for more independence.  It might be time to check-in and make sure you are still on the same page about their goals for their online lives and the privileges and responsibilities that go along with them.  Or maybe what they agreed to isn’t working for them anymore. See if together you can come up with a new strategy to help them learn.  Don’t be afraid to switch it up!  
  5. Has your child had a misstep? Don’t worry!  Mistakes are part of the learning process.  Even when a skill is fully integrated, this can happen.  Let your tween know you’ve noticed, remind them of the plan, and let them know you are in this together.  If the same issue keeps coming up, it might mean it is time to take a step back and review before moving on. 

Don’t just follow your kids online.  Lead them.