Author Nicky Keet - Counselling Psychologist
In today's digital age, access to explicit content is just a click away. As a result, parents are increasingly concerned about their children's exposure to inappropriate content, which can have negative impacts on their mental and emotional health. While the use of parental control apps like Lighthouse can help to minimise the risk of children accessing explicit content, some children may feel like their parents don't trust them or invade their privacy. Therefore, it is essential to communicate the importance of a parental control app in a way that is positive, constructive, and fosters an environment for healthy communication.
Here are some strategies that parents can use to communicate the importance of the Lighthouse app in a way that is beneficial for their children's mental and emotional wellbeing:
Frame the conversation positively: Parental control apps should not be seen as punishment, but as an assistant to help keep your child safe. When discussing the use of the Lighthouse app, focus on the positive benefits rather than the negative consequences. For example, instead of saying "I don't want you to access explicit content," say "I want to help you stay safe online, and I think a parental control app can help us do that together." This way, children will be more likely to see the benefits of using this app and be more receptive to the idea.
Emphasise the importance of trust: Your child may see the Lighthouse app as a means for parents to control, instead of protecting, therefore, it is important to have conversations around trust. Let your child know that trust is a two-way street and that you trust them to make good decisions, but that using the Lighthouse app is a way to provide a safety net and prevent them from accessing explicit content accidentally. This way, they will feel like you are working collaboratively towards a common goal.
Educate and encourage asking questions: Educate your child about the internet and how explicit content can have negative impacts on their wellbeing. Children may not inherently know there are dangers online, therefore, encourage your child to ask any questions they have about the internet, or about the Lighthouse app itself. Children do not always understand what an app does or does not do and therefore having a sound knowledge on the Lighthouse app will avoid any confusion or misunderstandings between you and your child.
Children need their privacy too: When discussing the use of a parental control app, listen to your child's concerns and acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that you understand their desire for privacy but that your main priority is to keep them safe. Tell them that the Lighthouse app does not snoop into their private conversations with their friends, but rather it works as a web-based filter while they are browsing online.
Show empathy: Having empathy involves putting yourself in your child's shoes and understanding how they feel or could feel about the Lighthouse app. When your child is upset and feels you have been unfair, show empathy by acknowledging their feelings and expressing understanding. Also, by having real and honest conversations, this can help your child feel heard, validated, and can foster trust and rapport between you.
Avoid judgement and criticism: If your child stumbles upon something inappropriate, a non-judgemental attitude is essential. Being critical, judgemental, or using the app in a punitive fashion, can make your child feel defensive or ashamed, which can shut down communication. Instead, focus on expressing concern and understanding, to forge a collaborative and healthy path forward.
Most importantly, make sure the app does not get in the way of your relationship with your child, instead use it to foster a more honest, open, and real relationship with them. Good communication is an essential aspect of any healthy relationship, and this holds true for the relationship between parents and children. It can help to build strong bonds, trust, resolve conflicts, and foster a supportive and nurturing environment at home.
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