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How do I talk to my child about unpleasant media content?

2 minutes reading time
3-17 years
Social Media
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A funny ad in front of a YouTube video, a war game on a gaming site, a bad news item on an information platform: children and young people sometimes unintentionally come into contact with content that frightens or disturbs them. As a parent, how can you handle it when your child has seen something they can’t place?

Children need support

Some media experiences of children parents get very quickly: About the latest story of their superhero, interesting Lego buildings or beautiful animals. children talk a lot and loudly. For other impressions, they tend to hold back. This is mostly content that a child has accidentally clicked on. It can quickly happen that children see something in passing on the TV news or on YouTube that is not suitable for them. Children often notice themselves when this content is not intended for their eyes and ears. However, they cannot yet process them on their own. When children enter puberty, they also often voluntarily expose themselves to such content. It is a kind of test of courage that they want to pass in front of themselves or their peers.

Talking openly about media

Convey to your child that he or she has done nothing wrong. Offer to talk to him about it. For many children, a conversation is the most important support and helps them cope better with media experiences. Keep an open mind and don’t judge. Encourage your child to tell stories freely. Ask what exactly it found funny about what it saw or what scared it. In this conversation, you and your child can try together to classify the unpleasant media content and thereby process it.

It can be beneficial to talk about some issues in your friend group or school class. Sharing with other children often helps your child get over what he or she has seen. Confer with other parents, the teacher if you feel there are issues that may be of concern to other children.

What else can parents do?

For younger children, you can look at special children’s pages together to explore a topic in more depth. The texts are written in a child-friendly way and there are no advertisements or other distracting content. Popular platforms like YouTube , Netflix etc. offer child-friendly settings and their own areas, so that only content that is age-appropriate can be watched there.

Install an ad blocker in the Internet browser. This prevents ads from popping up and blocks certain advertising content. Be sure to set up proper parental controls on all of your electronic devices that are connected to the Internet.

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