It’s been a rough week. As war rages in Ukraine and Queensland and New South Wales communities battle with devastating floods, many Australian teens are watching footage – not on the TV news, but on their social media feed. Some of this content is accurate, but some is misleading or fake. It’s important that teens can look to their parents or carers to help them make sense of it.
If your teens have seen distressing news stories online:
- Stay calm. Don’t snatch their devices away or blame them for looking at it.
- Find out what they saw, where it came from, and how often they see things like that.
- Ask them what they think about it. Comfort them if they are upset.
- Make sure they understand the facts. Your teens may have heard things that are not true. Check a trusted news media source together, or get advice here about how to spot a dodgy post.
- Think of something positive you could do as a family to make a difference. For example, you might donate to a charity working to help people affected by the disaster, such as Red Cross, Save the Children, or UNICEF. Or if you know someone affected personally, you might send them your love and ask what you can do to support them.
- Remind your teens that it’s OK to have a rest from things that stress us out on social media. Make sure they know how to ‘mute’, ‘take a break’, ‘unfollow’ or ‘block’ accounts. For tips, see the eSafety Guide.
- If your teens are struggling to cope with their feelings, connect them with professional help. Start with your school wellbeing team, a trusted GP, or a counseling service like Dolly’s Dream Support Line 0488 881 033, Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800, or eheadspace 1800 650 890. And keep the conversation going. The more we keep talking with our teens about what’s happening online, the better prepared we are to help them if something goes wrong.