Why, “But I trust my child…” should be banned from digital parenting

Why, “But I trust my child…” should be banned from digital parenting

Claire Orange | July 31, 2023 | Digital Parenting

In running parent workshops, when we get to question time, I often hear a parent say that their child is allowed their device In their room because they trust them, or that they don’t check their child’s device regularly for the same reason. When I ask who else trusts their child online, usually about a third of the hands go up. The first one is always tentative but when the ‘safety in numbers’ kicks in, a few more join in. It’s at this point I do my best to school my face in anything other than horror. Why?

Why is ‘trust’ DEFINITELY not part of the digital parenting equation?

Well, if I asked you, “Do you trust your child to swim unsupervised?” or, “Do you trust your child to cross a busy road without repeated practice with a grown-up alongside?” the answer would be no, just as it should be. In areas of known danger, our parental vigilance is high, and we don’t ‘trust’ that our child will be adequately skilled to manage those situations without a lot of training, guidance and assistance.

In teaching all my lads to drive, each one has asked, “Mum, don’t you trust me?” when I grip the dashboard in moments of high stress. My answer is always this; I trust you but I certainly don’t trust everyone around us to stop at the stop sign, not to pull into our lane without indicating…

You see, in digital life, it’s not about whether we trust our child, it’s about whether we trust the environment they’ve been dropped into including the people they know and those they don’t. In fact, ‘trust’ should not even be considered when we hand a child a device.

Our vulnerable children in a tricky environment

I often say, when we hand a device to a child, we give them access to the world… and the world access to them. It’s an unthinkable concept that any child would have enough life experience to understand and protect themselves against the technology itself designed to grab and hold their attention or those they meet in the big online playground.

In fact, I believe that trusting a child with a device can lead to complacency because what we’re banking on is the nature of our child and not the nature of the environment they’re experiencing.

Moving from a passive trust to an active involvement

Trust relies on the assumption that a child, in the moment, will know what to do, how to seek help, how to avoid inappropriate content and contact and how to self-manage their time on a device.

Trust relies on a child overcoming their natural curiosity and ability to flow into all the gaps and ending up in places they didn’t intend when they set out.

Trust relies on a child being aware of the dopamine build up in their brain and how that’s holding their attention and changing their emotions and behaviour.

Trust relies on a child being able to manage active predation on the platforms they visit, knowing what the signs are, how to respond to them and how to emotionally manage that experience.

When you unpack it, trust is a simple word with a lot of assumptions that you have to, hand on heart, be able to tick off everyone of to feel confident that your child will be safe online.

If you can’t do that, why then apply the word or the assumptions of trust? Instead, I encourage you move to the active state that you would assume if your child was swimming in an open body of water, crossing a road by themselves, going to a new friend’s house for an after-school play.

That state is vigilance because trust simply has no place at all in any situation where we are placing a child in known danger. It’s far too big a burden for an inexperienced child to be trusted to know what to do and when in an environment with demands that outweigh experience.


  1. Actively modify the boundaries of the online environment of your child by using parent controls.
  2. Actively monitor their interactions when online with spot checks and by following your child into the places they hang out.
  3. Actively teach your child the skills to manage themselves and others online by using your socials to teach from or using DiGii@Home as their training ground.

Everyone of us is raising children we want to trust, but the journey towards that state is one that has to be full of active choices that will often displease our child who might take our actions personally. That’s good parenting – hard of course, but good parenting. Onwards!


About Claire Orange

Claire has worked with children and their families in a variety of settings for 3 decades. She is also the mum of 4 young men and has faced all the bumps along the parenting journey that are common to all raising young ones in the digital age.

About DiGii Social

DiGii Social is amazing world-first technology that is the safest start to digital life for every child. In safe social networks either on DiGii@School or DiGii@Home, children are taught all the skills to be safe, civil and savvy in real time on an immersive learning platform while they play with their friends.

Every child deserves to be prepared for and protected in digital life, and every parent can feel reassured that 12 months on DiGii Social will set their child up to be kind and responsible digital citizens.