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Recovery: when things go wrong online

We often hear conversations about how to prevent harmful things from happening to young people when they go online. But things will go wrong, and the steps that follow are just as important as prevention. Parent Zone writer Marjun Ziarati introduces this month’s theme of recovery, a key part of fostering digital resilience. 

Taking risks and making mistakes is all part and parcel of exploring the digital world. Young people need to be able to handle the challenges that being online can bring. From relationship breakups turning nasty on social media to a young child accidentally viewing something upsetting, it isn’t always possible to shield young people from harmful online experiences. A key part of fostering their digital resilience is enabling them to recover when things go wrong.

‘If a young person feels they can come to you for support, then you can help them to work their way through their thoughts and feelings,’ says Dr Pooky Knightsmith, mental health ambassador and educator.

Dr Knightsmith offers top tips on how to encourage a young person to come to you when things go wrong online:

ʻFoster an environment of listeningʼ

Allowing a young person to talk and feel heard on a range of issues means they are more likely to confide in you if they become upset as a result of an experience online.

ʻDon’t dismiss the little thingsʼ

If you listen to a young person when they open up about the little things, they are more likely to come to you when bigger problems arise.

ʻWork together to find practical solutionsʼ

Putting heads together to make a plan for sensible next steps is likely to result in a plan that is far more palatable, and more likely to be followed by a young person, than if you simply tell them what to do.

ʻKeep the conversation openʼ

Young people’s experiences and responses will evolve over time; by keeping the conversation open and supporting them as and when they face difficulties, you will increase your understanding, promote resilience and ensure that if things go wrong, they know where to turn.

 

Further reading

Let's talk about recovery

Helping young people recover from relationships in the digital age

How to help children recover from a bad experience online

Recovery directory