Start the conversation with young people

Start the conversation with young people - BeNetWise

Make it a two-way conversation...

Anyone who works with or cares for young people can confirm that you’ll get a lot further in a conversation if you discuss something with a young person, rather than talking at them.

Talking about staying safe online is no exception.

We’ve pulled together the tips and resources to help you start the conversation.

Why is this important?
Parents and other adult carers are the most important role models and influences in young people’s lives:
  • 58 % of US teenage internet and mobile users reported their parents as the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate and inappropriate when using a mobile phone and going online.
  • Only 18 % of these teens reported their friends as their biggest influence in this area (Lenhart et al 2011).


Here are some ideas on starting conversations and engaging with young people about cybersafety and digital technology:
  • Watch some of the cybersafety videos together and talk about their message – be brief, avoid lecturing, and keep positive.
  • Start discussions by talking about young people's favourite TV programs, online activities and games – during the ads or other breaks! Be prepared to discuss your own media and technology use and be the role model for their use.
  • Bring up cybersafety tips and issues in conversation while visiting websites with them or playing electronic games together.
  • Young people enjoy showing their carers and other adults how to play a game or use technology. This will also give you opportunities to spend time with them doing something they enjoy, and learn about the technology.
  • Avoid being critical about websites, games, music, or TV shows they enjoy, or negative about digital environments – getting people defensive closes down conversation.
  • Discuss the games they are playing, TV shows and films they watch, music they listen to and websites they visit. Encourage and role-model critical thinking about these media.
  • Talk about the issues as they come up in the media, on the news, or as they arise in schools or amongst their friends.
  • Keep the conversation going! Pick up the conversations at later times, and revisit the issues and safety strategies regularly.

Connected Culture

This video is a good introduction to the importance of the Internet for young people, social networking and the safety challenges.

Share your stories with us

BeNetWise would like to hear from workers, carers, and young people in out of Home Care and Alternative Education about their experiences online, and the strategies you’re using to start the conversation and keep it going, and strategies to stay safe.

share your story with us and other BeNetWise users.

What are the challenges

  • Addiction
  • Bullying
  • Criminal activity
  • Games Playing
  • Privacy
  • Screen Time
  • Sexual Activity - Sexting
  • Sexual Activity – Unwanted Contact
  • Sexual Activity – Sexual Content

Online resources

Often young people will be more interested in discussing media and digital communications use if you view a video or play a game together first. Here are some proven discussion starters.

Think U Know
ThinkUKnow is an Internet safety program delivering interactive training to parents, carers and teachers through primary and secondary schools across Australia using a network of accredited trainers.

That's Not Cool Videos
That's Not Cool Videos are short, funny animations that ask young people to make choices about how they would handle problems such as receiving too many texts from friends, being pressured to send nude pictures and having their privacy invaded online.

Keeping Kids Safe Online - video by CommonSense Media
This engaging video by CommonSense Media spells out the 10 common sense rules for kids and teens to stay safe online.

Tagged – video by Cybersmart
This excellent short Australian film on cybersafety issues involving teenagers, including sexting and bullying, is by Cybersmart (published by ACMA), and includes a number of accompanying resources:
CommonSense Media
  • CommonSense Media - Common Sense Media is a not-for-profit organization, providing trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume. Registered users have access to a range of information, resources, reviews and videos on cybersafety and internet and media use.
  • CommonSense Media Brittney’s Story - 14 year old Brittney tells her story of how she and her friends posted some explicit videos online and how she feels about it now. A good starting point for discussing the importance of thinking about the possible consequences of uploading personal material that may create problems now and well into the future.
  • CommonSense Media Henry’s Story - Henry liked to pretend he is an adult when he is online because it improves his self esteem and sense of identity. This story is both an excellent opportunity to discuss the positives of being online and possible negatives if you pretend to be someone you are not.
  • CommonSense Media electronic newsletter - Registered users receive their electronic newsletter, with regular updates and latest reviews to help you select the most suitable media (such as films, music and electronic games) for children and young people in your care.
Go Figure 2
An introduction video to the contemporary digital world and its safety issues by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI).

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation eSmart
This website has some tips for young people to stay safe online which are good conversation starters. They cover Leaving a Trail- digital footprints (how not to leave a trail online which may threaten privacy and safety), My Brand- self image and reputation, Chatterbox- friendships and relationships online, Flicks and Pics - images and video, Bodyguard- protecting your privacy and Google It- finding and using information.