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Understanding the adolescent mind when discussing internet safety.

Beginning to talk with your child about how important communication is can be hard at first. There are many sensitive topics that are hard for a developing mind to understand and that shows the importance of parent-child communication. In this post, there is information regarding how a child's mind develops and how YOU can begin to talk to children about these topics.


According to the National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH), the brain's development is associated "to social experiences during adolescence". The NIMH further explains that these social experiences can lead the brain to be willing to take on more risks. These risks can include positive and negative outcomes for the child. Some positives can include: joining a club, a sport, after school program, and helping others. Some negative outcomes can include: experimental use of drugs, smoking or vaping, and even some more dangerous. According to the NIMH, "Because the teen brain is still developing, teens may respond to stress differently than adults. This could increase teens’ chances of developing stress-related mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Recognizing possible triggers and practicing effective coping techniques can help teens deal with stress." An important factor to keep in mind is that the part of the brain that helps us to make good decisions is not fully developed until the "mid-to-late 20s..."(NIMH). Here is the full message, "Although the brain stops growing in size by early adolescence, the teen years are all about fine-tuning how the brain works. The brain finishes developing and maturing in the mid-to-late 20s. The part of the brain behind the forehead, called the prefrontal cortex, is one of the last parts to mature. This area is responsible for skills like planning, prioritizing, and making good decisions..." (NIMH).


National Institutes of Mental Health. The Teen Brain: 7 Things To Know. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved June 27, 2023, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-7-things-to-know#:~:text=The%20brain%20finishes%20developing%20and,mid%2Dto%2Dlate%2020s.


 

Communication

A great way to start good communication is to talk about how your child feels in a safe environment. That environment can be a place of comfort or safety for the child such as home or a counseling service. I am not a professional when it comes to communication, but I understand how important and crucial it can be to get this information to you as soon as possible.


Communication leads to better overall health. It can contribute to better mental, emotional, and even physical understanding of others. Once a child is in their safe environment this is when you have the greatest chance for open and honest dialogue with a child regarding internet safety. Topics that you can discuss with a child can include: location safety, personal information sharing, photo sharing, and other uses. As a parent or guardian of a child, your number one priority is the safety and development of your child. This means you need to ask the difficult questions like:

  1. Do you share photos on the internet?

  2. Do you participate in chat groups or social rooms?

  3. Do you personally know everyone to whom you are talking?

  4. Have you ever been propositioned to meet someone?

  5. Have you ever been asked to share inappropriate pictures of yourself to others?

  6. Has anyone ever made you feel uncomfortable on the internet?

Although these questions are difficult to ask, and considering that the answers may be surprising and upsetting to you, this is the information that you NEED answered to help the child or adolescent. The experiences that come from the internet can vary drastically which is why internet safety is important for all children.


Getting informed

There are many great places to look for reliable information on the developing mind of an adolescent. Therapy is an amazing tool for helping your child to understand their emotions and feelings. Some websites that can help you find a therapist in your area include:

If interested, consider checking out PC4U's pamphlets on mental health and child electronic safety as they also touch on the aspects of child development and importance of communication.









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