Remember, it is important to monitor your children’s online activity and be prepared to talk to them about things they may see on the internet.

With the proliferation of digital devices, easy access to the internet, and the popularity of social networks it can be difficult to remain engaged with your child’s online activities, especially for a busy parent. On New Year’s Eve, popular YouTube vlogger Logan Paul posted a video of an apparent suicide while filming with his crew in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. The video titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” was pulled after one day amid a storm of outrage and concern. While the video did contain a disclaimer at the beginning and was not monetized, many found the video to be in poor taste and inappropriate for young potentially impressionable viewers. Paul has since removed the video and apologized.

Paul has nearly 20 million followers on his various YouTube channels with over 2 billion views. Many of the 22-year-old’s followers are teenagers. YouTube’s influence on teenagers is vast. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 91% of teens between 13 and 17 reports using YouTube regularly and 57% report to having an online account of some type that their parents are not aware of. This means it is critical to be aware of what your kids are doing online. Here are some tips to help you monitor your child’s online activity and how to talk to your kids about things they encounter online.

Establish Ground Rules

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance’s 2017 survey Keeping Up with Generation App: NCSA Parent/Teen Online Safety Survey, “28% of teens report that their household has no rules about their use of devices”. Of those families that do have rules in place over 70% of teens feel that those rules are effective. Be open about your concerns about your child’s online activity and work with them to establish rules. These rules should extend beyond just not using their devices at dinnertime and should include fair consequences for not following them. Make sure your rules are fair, based on your family’s values, and are focused on your child’s well-being.

Monitor Their Activity

This one may get some pushback from your teens as an invasion of privacy. Be clear about your concerns. Make sure they understand the things you are looking for (inappropriate content, cyberbullying) and why you are concerned. Look for social media and messaging apps and understand how your child is using those apps. Look through their YouTube and browser history with them and discuss any concerns that may arise.

Develop Their Strengths

Use this as an opportunity to develop your child’s strengths. Social intelligence, honesty, and perspective are important when being an online citizen. Being aware of the motives of others can be difficult to determine over the internet. Make sure your child is nimble with their thinking when engaging people online. Being open and honest about what they are doing online can help open communication with you. Explain that they are likely to encounter things online that they may disagree with or are not in line with their own values. Being able to look at different perspectives can help them be safer.

Talk To Them

Rules and monitoring can only go so far. Make sure you are listening to your children and talking to them. Videos like Paul’s or many others they may encounter online can be disturbing and confusing. Be open about topics that may come up and assure your children you are there for them.

Seek Help When Necessary has some great tips for helping your teens stay safe online. Beech Acres Parenting Center offers Parent Coaching to help you deal with various parenting challenges. And of course, suicide, as depicted in the Logan Paul video, is a major concern among teens. Help is available If you need to talk to someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.