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4 Ways to Get Your Kids to Turn to You Instead of the Internet

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We once received an interesting email here at iMOM. An 11-year-old girl wrote to say she was concerned about her parents’ marriage. Like most kids on the internet, she’s savvy and in a search, found an iMOM article: “Is This the Root Cause of Your Marriage Problems?” She thought it would help her mother and emailed us about it. She apologized that she was only 11 (but almost 12) and asked us if we would send the information to her mother.

What fascinates me is that she took the initiative to research on her mother’s behalf but didn’t go to her mother directly. Are we losing our connection with our kids? Do they feel more comfortable reaching out to strangers on a screen than to their own family? Technology can be so helpful; however, it’s not relational and it’s often not safe. Your kids are searching for answers online and they aren’t always going to stumble upon iMOM. Sometimes, the internet will lead them to a source that’s less trustworthy and more dangerous. So here are 4 ways to get your kids to turn to you instead of to the internet.

1. Stay connected.

It all starts here. If we have a strong relationship with our children, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to us and will want to come to us. So be available. When your kids are around, try to put your screen away because it’s just one more barrier they have to get through to reach you. They might think to themselves, “Oh, Mom’s on her phone; she’ll ask me to wait if I go up to her.”

If we have a strong relationship with our children, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to us and will want to come to us. Click To Tweet

Spend time with your kids when both of you are off your screens. Make the golden hours times of real connection—in the morningafter school, and at bedtime.

2. You bring up the topic.

Your kids might want to ask you how to make friends, what to do if you’re shy, or if a teenager should have sex, but if they feel awkward asking you, they will ask Google or a friend instead. Sometimes, kids’ questions come out of left field, but usually, moms have an idea of what’s going on in their kids’ lives. When that mom intuition kicks in, don’t hesitate to start the discussion.

Have conversations about touchy topics casually and regularly. When your kids do ask you questions, avoid reactions like, “Why do you want to know that? You should know that! You’re too young to know.” Use our conversation printables or our Q & U app to make questions fun.

3. Give them alternatives.

Give your kids options for where to turn—you, a grandparent, a teacher, books. Or, the next time they rush to their computer or Alexa to get an answer, playfully say, “Freeze!” Then, ask them how you two can find the answer without going to the internet. My mom is an expert on the Titanic, so I made my kids call her when they needed help on a report. It led to a great conversation.

You’ll probably get pushback from your kids. My son often says, “Why do I have to figure it out the hard way if I can just search it online and have the answer in five seconds?” I responded that it’s good exercise for the brain, which needs to work just like the rest of our bodies.

4. Show them how to question.

Tell your kids that everything they find online isn’t necessarily true. Explain that most adults and other kids on the internet share their opinions before facts and that much of what they read is an attempt to get them to buy something or click on a link. Try picking a topic you know has two clear sides to it and show them how many differing opinions are available online.

This is especially important with sex. Pornography and even non-porn articles about sex and social media posts make certain things seem normal, so kids think that’s what’s expected. Keep talking about your views and the morals on which you base them.

Have you noticed your kids go to the internet for answers more than they come to you? How can you convince them to come to you first?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

Why would someone put information on the internet that isn’t true?

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