In a digital world, are our children and young people becoming overexposed? We think so. We think so because they are learning more and more about topics that shouldn’t be explored until they are much older. We recently read an article that ultimately inspired this blog. You can read the full article here. However, here is a summary. 

The Irish Examiner article written by Child Psychologist Colman Noctor begins with the line “Don’t fat shame the puppy”, a sentence he heard from his 8-year-old son after he directed his older daughter not to feed the puppy from the dinner table. The term ‘fat shame’ isn’t a term you would expect to hear from an 8-year-old child; it got us thinking: where do children learn this terminology? Are they becoming overly exposed or overly advanced?


Now, there is always the chance that this child doesn’t quite understand what this term means, but where did he hear it? The most logical answer to this question is social media. We think it’s fair to say that if your child uses social media, regardless of how many restrictions and preventative measures you put in place to protect them, in some way or another, they will be exposed to mature content. It’s important to note that mature content doesn’t always come in the form of pornography or have a sexual nature. Mature content can also be violent, such as war or terrorism. We currently see our news feeds flooded with content about war, given what is happening in the world. Mature content can take the form of debates around sexual identity, social issues or even different communities. It’s not to say that these topics can not or should not be discussed, but the age at which children are now potentially exposed to them may be confusing and lead them to develop inaccurate views too young.


What topics are now spoken about that might be foreign to parents?

Social media is advancing at a pace that none of us can keep up with. Our lives are busier as adults, and we tend to fall more out of touch with social media. This means that hot topics and trends on social media tend to become foreign to us. Here are some topics frequently discussed on social media that could fall onto the screens of your children and young adults.



Some topics below...


Gay rights


Celebrity scandals

Eating disorders

Antisocial behaviour

Substance abuse

These are all topics that children should be aware of and educated in at the appropriate age and how parents or teachers see fit. We need to educate children to be free thinkers and to be open-minded. Children at a young age should be aware that most information found online in any format is often fabricated, manipulated or just one person’s opinion. Building confidence in our youth to form their opinions and views is crucial. Teaching critical thinking so that children learn to question false or misleading information. Teaching leadership in their minds to ensure that they do not fall into the fake news rabbit hole or seek entertainment from topics that are glorified online but hold no place in the entertainment world.

How to discuss controversial or complex topics with children.

Knowing all the topics your child might be exposed to can be difficult. Take, for example, the situation outlined in the first paragraph and how to approach this 8-year-old on fat shaming. Here are three tips.

1.Question and check for understanding

Question where they heard the ‘fat shaming’ term. Ask them what it means to them. Often, children repeat things they hear without fully understanding or having context. In this case, the child used the term ‘fat shaming’ in the correct context. Although fat shaming wasn’t occurring, it was used concerning weight. 

2. Encourage critical thinking

Once you have discovered where and how they learned this terminology, ask open-ended questions to ensure your child truly understands what they are saying. In this case, maybe the questions are, why is that fat shaming or Our dog isn’t fat? Why is that fat shaming? It might also be beneficial to ask them what their views are on this topic, if they have heard it from someone else, encourage them to think freely and develop their own views.

3. Teach Empathy

Teach children the importance of having confidence in themselves and their views. However, it’s equally important to teach active listening skills and empathy for the opinions, cultures and perspectives of others, even if they differ from theirs.

Internet safety seminars

Zeeko Education provides virtual and on-site Internet safety training to suit every school’s needs. Some of our packages also include parent seminars to ensure you are up to date with the most relevant information for your child, their class, and their age group. Our bookings are now open for the next academic year. Slots are filling up for November and December already. If you are a teacher looking to book a seminar, simply fill out the form here. If you are a parent and would like your child to participate in an Internet Safety Seminar, forward this to your child’s teacher.

Internet Safety Seminars