We all want to believe that our children will abstain from discourse, but in our fast-moving culture, there are so many factors and influences beyond the home and the classroom that could push your child down that road to the exchange of takes and opinions. But there’s no need to panic; stay calm and use these tips to prevent your child from participating in discourse.
Show them they can trust you.
Do you want for your child to feel so afraid of your reaction should they tell you they engaged in discourse that they opt to keep you out of the loop entirely? Didn’t think so. Instead, tell your teen that it’s totally natural to see a varied discussion unfold around a central theme such as bathing habits, questionable casting decisions, or potential celebrity gayness and to feel intrigued. Curiosity isn’t wrong, but discourse isn’t right. Make sure they know where the line is, but feel safe coming to you with their questions.
Don’t rely on scare tactics.
Don’t simply warn them about the “woman you used to know who ended up being Really Online to the point where she had to weigh in on every fleeting hot topic and most of her IRL friends muted her”. Sure, it’s terrifying, but teens have an invincibility complex and never think the worst will happen to them.
The unfortunate reality is that to recognize the signs of your child participating in discourse, you have to be somewhat informed on who Twitter’s main character of the day is, what famous person said, did, or wore something weird, and even international news. You can also look for your child’s diary — not to read it, of course — just to make sure they have a place to put all their little thoughts that is neither public nor conversational.
At the end of the day you just have to trust that you’re raising a child with a good enough head on their shoulders to avoid discourse. It’s quite possible they will dabble. They could end up a full-on replier and quote-tweeter. They could even become disillusioned at the capacity for meaningful exchange online and seek a purer application of the dialectical method, AKA become a philosophy major! But don’t worry about worst-case scenarios right now. You are trying.
So good luck keeping your proto-podcaster kid away from discourse, and remember: There’s always more you could have done!