The internet is full of unpleasant images and social media increasingly unfortunately makes available to our kids things they really shouldn’t see.  And when kids see things they really shouldn’t see that can be very disturbing to them, but also very disturbing to you as a parent, to know that your child has seen something they shouldn’t see.

Encourage them not to open graphic content

So what do you do? Well, the first thing is avoidance. How do you know, is there a way in which you can reduce the likelihood of your child seeing disturbing images and that’s not particularly easy, but sometimes there’s, well-publicised unpleasant things on the internet, which you can talk about and encourage your child not to see and encourage them not to open content which, and that content could be in the form of posts that they know before they open it is likely to be quite disturbing. That’s the first thing.

What if they have already seen something graphic?

But let’s assume they’ve seen something that they shouldn’t really have seen, and this could be extremely graphic. It could be violent or of a sexual nature that is really not age appropriate. Well, if they have, then try to create an opportunity to debrief with your child about what that content is about, what it actually means and have an opportunity if you can to put that content into context and that context may help your child deal with that content in a way otherwise they wouldn’t.

Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney

Last Reviewed: 07/10/2020

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