### Strategies for Addressing Online Toxicity with Your Teenage Sons

Tips from a Clinical Psychologist for Parents on Addressing Concerning Internet Content with Teens

Dr. Elly Hanson, a seasoned clinical psychologist in both NHS and private settings, offers valuable insights for parents navigating discussions with their teenage or preadolescent children about troubling online content they may encounter. Drawing from her professional expertise and personal experience as a parent, Dr. Hanson provides practical advice on handling this sensitive aspect of modern parenting.

Importance of Approach

When faced with instances where children parrot negative viewpoints absorbed online, Dr. Hanson advises against a punitive stance. Instead, she advocates for a non-judgmental approach. Engaging children in dialogue to understand the origins of their attitudes and encouraging critical thinking about the content and its sources can be more effective than reprimands.

Encouraging Critical Thinking

Empowering children to question online, television, and print media content is crucial. Parents can utilize resources like Vodafone’s Digital Parenting and Digital Parenting Pro to initiate conversations and bolster their understanding of the digital landscape their children navigate.

Addressing Vulnerabilities

Understanding the underlying factors that make children susceptible to harmful ideologies is key. By addressing grievances or insecurities, parents can guide children towards healthier perspectives on relationships and vulnerability, fostering empathy and openness over defensiveness.

Combatting Extremist Influence

To counter the allure of extremist groups that prey on feelings of superiority and exclusivity, Dr. Hanson suggests appealing to teenagers’ anti-authoritarian tendencies. By highlighting manipulative tactics employed by extremist influencers, parents can redirect their children’s focus towards meaningful connections beyond divisive narratives.

Cultivating Empathy

Encouraging empathy by prompting children to consider the impact of their actions on others, especially in scenarios involving online harassment or bullying, can foster introspection and empathy.

Collaborative Approach

Involving peers from offline social circles can complement parental efforts in guiding children away from harmful online influences, leveraging the influence of friends, siblings, or teammates.

Patience and Persistence

Dr. Hanson underscores the importance of patience in this ongoing process, emphasizing that meaningful conversations driven by curiosity rather than coercion can yield significant breakthroughs over time. The potential long-term consequences of unchecked online behavior on children’s future relationships underscore the significance of these dialogues.

By adopting these strategies and maintaining open, non-judgmental communication, parents can navigate the complexities of addressing problematic internet content with their children effectively.