Discussion Guide

Starting to Make “Friends” Online

Whether playing games or using a friend’s or sibling’s phone, kids may encounter strangers online sooner than you planned. It’s important to help them identify risky online interactions, and know when and how to cut things off and get help if needed.
illustration of a hand waving in a speech bubble


Why talking about this is important

Kids this age are interested in making friends and engaging in group activities. It is completely normal for them to want to connect with others online via group games. While it’s best to disable chat and direct messaging for younger kids, start teaching kids these basic ideas before they have an opportunity to chat with a stranger online.

In this guide you will:

  • Help your child understand that people and situations online aren’t always as they seem.
  • Talk to your child about what not to share with people they don’t know in real life.
  • Teach your child to talk to a trusted adult if someone makes them uncomfortable.

What to expect from your kid

Kids are likely forthcoming and willing to share at this age. Balance the conversation with both the good and the bad about online interactions, as you navigate various levels of access to online friends together. This includes talking to an adult if something makes them uncomfortable, even if it’s someone they know.

First steps

How to start talking

It’s important to distinguish between in person friends, online friends, and strangers early on. It can be tricky for kids (and even adults) to tell the difference when interacting with other people online. Here are some key moments to consider:
  • Playing their first game with their friends online
  • Asking you to download a new app or game for them
  • They start asking about when they can have social media platforms

Has anyone tried to talk to you in your games?

Conversation Script

Let's play this out

Related Discussion Guides

Even though many younger kids often don’t have access to their own devices, or ways to connect with strangers online in their own home, parents can’t always control what access kids may have outside the home—either at school or friends’ houses. Here are more discussion guides to compliment the conversation:

Sign up

Receive tips and resources straight to your phone

We’ll text you about new tasks, visual guides, resources, and tips from experts.