Health and wellbeing 

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you’ll understand that this is a time of physical and emotional change. They don’t always want to speak to you, their teacher or even their friends about what’s on their mind, so they might look elsewhere for help.

The internet gives them a place to find information and discuss issues, such as relationships, bullying, alcohol and drug misuse, stress, bereavement, eating disorders and self-harm.

What do I need to know about it? 

  • Even if you think that your son or daughter would confide in you first, talk to them about the places they might look for advice about health and other personal issues online
  • Discuss the kinds of health and wellbeing websites that are suitable for them to visit and those that aren’t – show them what comes up if they simply type a search term into a search engine and how to determine where they can find reputable support organisations run by trained professionals online
  • Encourage them to come to you if they want to talk about anything they’ve come across online that’s troubling them
  • Explain to your child why they should be careful when giving out personal information and sharing experiences – not everyone they meet online is who they say they are
  • Talk about their “digital footprint” – anything your son or daughter posts online now could be there forever and could be seen by anyone
  • Set up Parental Controls and Safe Search on your child’s computer based on their age and maturity – but remember, they might not be 100% effective and they aren’t a substitute for parental supervision
  • Read our articles about cyberbullying, exploring sexual identity, inappropriate & harmful content, mobiles & health, managing reputation, misleading content, search

Where can I go for more information and support? 

  • Read Dr Rachel O'Connell's article from our Digital Parenting magazine
  • The UK’s leading eating disorder charity Beat provides advice on its own YouTube channel
  • Bebo has created the Be Well centre to offer young people information and support on issues relating to mental health, crime, social care and wellbeing
  • Childline provides confidential advice and counselling to children and teenagers in the UK
  • A partnership with Samaritans means that Facebook users in the UK can submit reports of potentially suicidal content on the social networking site
  • Get Connected offers a confidential helpline for young people
  • Mental health charity MIND promotes good mental health online through its website and Facebook group
  • Get advice and talk to other parents on Mumsnet
  • The NHS website is a useful health resource for your whole family
  • Family Lives' 24/7 Parentline offers guidance on a wide range of parenting issues
  • Reachout Ireland helps young people through tough times
  • Visit the Samaritans website for information about the support it offers
  • SANE aims to improve the quality of life for people affected by mental illness
  • Spunout empowers young people in Ireland to create personal and social change
  • Young adults can take part in the online community