Written by Caroline Meyer

With social media and technology expanding rapidly, kids are exposed to topics at a much younger age than in the past. The internet is also full of fake news, myths and legends and this can be very confusing to children learning about these topics for the first time. Here are a few recommended topics to discuss with your children to give them a factual rendition or to warn them about dangers especially trends that come and go which can be harmful. 


There seems to be a new challenge doing the rounds every second week. Many of these can be harmful and cause permanent damage.  Challenges such as “Pass Out Charlie”, “Salt and Ice Challenge”, “Cinnamon Fire”, “Hot Pepper Challenge” and even silly things like eating Tide Pods, can cause harm to your child. Children follow these challenges because their peers are doing it or to prove a point or even for “likes” on their social media. Many of these challenges have resulted in harm and even death to children that try them.  Other challenges such as “Charlie Charlie” which is a creepy game, in which children try to summon demons, can result in nightmares and fear responses. Talk to your children about internet challenges and why they should not take part. 


Bullying has been around as long as children have been around (and some adults remain bullies even after they pass the stage of being kids). The advent of the internet now allows for even more bullying as people can remain faceless and anonymous while using text to bully others online. Encourage your children to talk to you if they are being bullied. Let them know it is okay to be upset by it and it is never okay to bully someone. If this occurs at school, you may want to approach the teachers or someone in authority to deal with the problem and to prevent future bullying. Talk to your child about predators on the internet as well and let them know people on the web are not always what they seem. As a parent, you do need to monitor the sites your children visit and restrict them from making friends with strangers on social media and even in games that allow for interaction between players. Internet safety is very important and it is not an invasion of privacy to check on your child’s internet activities in order to keep them safe. 


Children are exposed to sex talk on the internet, radio and television as well as in discussion with peers from an early age. Children are also engaging in sex acts from a younger age. It is important that the discussion be had about HIV and other STDs as soon as children have the capacity to understand the topic.  It is also important to broach the topic of vaginal infections with girls as well when it is appropriate. 


The LGBT community has been in the news a lot over the past couple of decades and what it means can be quite confusing to children. Explain what it means and you can also add on that everyone deserves equal rights and the same treatment regardless of race, religion and sexual orientation. If they are brought up knowing that it is not okay to mistreat people based on their differences, then this subject may end up just being a discussion on definitions as they are commonly understood. 


This is important for all children, regardless of their race. Talk to your child about instances where minorities are treated differently in a way that is harmful or discriminatory and how this is not acceptable. Help them get support for themselves or their friends should they be treated badly based on race. Let them know who to approach to get something done to correct the problem and that they can always come to you if they have concerns.  


This is something that all parents need to get educated on so that they can look for warning signs. Do not ignore warning sighs such as depression, mood disorders, behavioural changes, withdrawal and so forth. Do ask the difficult questions. If your child tells you about friends that may be talking about suicide, listen and get involved. Issues that cause suicide need professional input in most instances to help the child deal with their symptoms.


Children may suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental illness and parents may be afraid to address behaviour problems that result for these issues. Many behavioural problems can also be due to psychological problems and even physical ones. If your child is demonstrating problem behaviour, it may be a good idea to consult your doctor who may then recommend a psychiatrist.  Getting to the bottom of the problem and getting treatment can help your child’s behaviour improve.  


Having friends is important for development of a child. It helps teach them to handle expectations and emotions of others and how to give and take in relationships. Friendships help children grow socially and emotionally. Encourage your child to make friends. Keep track of their friendships and make sure you get to spend some time with their friends as well to ensure there are minimal negative influences and that the “friends” are not bullies. Social interaction is very important, but the quality of the friendships is equally important.