Best of the Web: How parents can make a difference to teenage drinking, and more

The big influence parents have when it comes to teen drinking, the tremendous young trio behind the COVID data app, and Instagram for kids project put on hold.

Our selection of thought-provoking and useful resources from around the web on educating and raising children, and supporting families.

Alcohol use in children, and how parents can make a difference

(Sarah Sedhi, ABC Everyday)

We know the peer pressure that exists for teens around drinking. In a culture that equates being social with drinking alcohol, the pressure on teens to drink can be overwhelming, as this article notes.

What can parents do? Plenty, say the experts surveyed. Parents can make more of a difference than they think, and are, in fact, the number one influence over their teens’ choices.

So how can parents exercise this influence? Modelling good behaviour around alcohol is a key factor – don’t reach for a glass of wine or a beer at the end of the day. Instead, show your kids there are other ways of coping, such as going for a walk.

And don’t be tempted to give your child a sip of alcohol or a glass of wine to teach them good behaviour.

It increases the chance of binge drinking, or seeking alcohol elsewhere.

You might also find helpful Andrew Fuller’s article on The Parents Website, 10 reasons why your teen shouldn’t drink

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Meet the Melbourne kids helping Australia track the virus

In a week when we really needed it, there was cause for optimism and hope when three Melbourne Year 9 students revealed themselves as the brains behind the impressive COVID date tracking site, CovidBaseAU.

Jack, Darcy and Wesley decided that the day they received their first dose of Moderna vaccine was a good time to let the world know.

‘They felt it wasn’t necessary to be identified right away – the coronavirus data and their smarts should speak for themselves – and they wanted their tracking site to be taken seriously,’ says the report.

Their Twitter followers went from an already impressive 17,000 to 26,000 in 24 hours. This week, they climbed above 40,000. ‘People were always sort of impressed, but it’s more of just the shock factor that I think has got a lot of people,’ Jack said.

It was just the lift we all needed, and an affirmation in these difficult times that with the likes of Jack, Darcy and Wesley, the future is looking good.

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Facebook pauses work on Instagram Kids after teen mental health concerns

There’s been a worldwide reaction to the report by the Wall Street Journal about the impact of Instagram on teenage mental health.

The WSJ reported that Facebook had commissioned research showing that its platform Instagram could affect girls’ mental health on issues such as body image and self-esteem.

This report details how Instagram has paused work on its Instagram Kids project, aimed at 10-to-12-year-olds, to address concerns raised by parents, experts and regulators.

But the head of Instagram isn’t backing away from the project. It would ‘demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.’

The report says Facebook’s rebuttal of the WSJ report led to further condemnation from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic.

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