Making Change: 5 Questions I ask My Teenagers

5 Questions I ask My Teenagers

Making Change to Better Families


When children are young, they live life blissfully unaware of any potential danger around them. They would run onto the road to chase a ball or climb a fence they had no way of getting down from. As parents, we worked really hard to keep them safe, and besides possibly a few broken bones, keeping them safe was straightforward.

Now teenagers are faced with new threats, which they would remain similarly unaware of. They think they know about cyber bullying, sexting, pornography, identity theft and the like, but they really haven’t lived long enough to understand the full impact of any of them.  As a parent, you can learn how to intentionally focus your effort on keeping them safe online. And it all starts with open and continued conversation.

Here are five questions that may help you start a conversation with your teen today:

1. Have you ever googled your name to see what comes up?   

I ask my teenagers this question regularly for a few reasons. The main one being to remind them that anything they post online is easily accessible.  

2. What is your favourite app?  

Their interests online are constantly changing and it’s literally impossible to keep up without their help. I enjoy being taught about the latest Instagram updates from my 13 year old. He is my best teacher.

3. What should we be doing to protect your younger brothers / sisters online? 

Older siblings are usually much more concerned about their brothers and sisters than we give them credit for.  They also notice things we don’t, especially online. Asking for their input gives them the opportunity to use what they have learnt to help others.

4. What is the worst thing you have ever seen online? 

We have to expect they will come across inappropriate content online. It’s not “if” it’s “when”. I think it is important to give teenagers a safe place to talk honestly. Be careful not to over react but work out solutions with them. They should never be punished for someone else’s online choices.

5. How do you respond to criticism or hate online? 

The choices our teens make online determine whether they get more hate or less hate, more pornography or less pornography, etc….you get the idea. How they respond the first time they come across a challenge will make a great difference to where it leads them.  Delete, block, report to an adult….three steps every teenager needs to be reminded of regularly.


by Michelle Mitchell

Michelle worked as a teacher before establishing Youth Excel in 2000, a charity which delivers life skills education and mentoring programs to state, private and alternative learning schools nationwide.With her work been featured on The Today Show, Today Tonight and Channel 10 Morning News, Michelle’s honest and hope-filled approach has seen her help countless teenagers transition successfully into adulthood.