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Manual for philosophizing

Let's think about

This little manual gives you a variety of ideas on how to do philosophy with your children to help them to develop skills for a responsible and effective digital media use.


More and more children of primary-school age and nearly all adolescents have got their own smartphones. Today, a large number of young people spend their time online. Due to the rapid spread of the Internet, the depiction of eroticism, sexuality and pornography has become accessible to a great amount of people. Therefore, children and adolescents are often unintentionally confronted with different forms of sexuality and sexual content at a very early stage. Pornography is available at any time and without any restrictions, however, its usage is always accompanied by social taboos, issues of legality, and the fear of getting caught.

Kids online - a challenge for parents: has the Internet taken the job of sexual education? Everybody knows that cyberbullying, pornography and sexting are present throughout the Internet. But how do we react to it? What can parents do? How can we react in a fast and competent way? In what ways can we influence its further development? How can one find his or her place within a virtual world that is constantly getting more and more confusing and unclear? Does the Internet offer more opportunities than risks? How can we support children and adolescents in the safer use of the Internet?

Studies show that the exchange of nude pictures via the Internet and mobile phones, “sexting” (a compound of “sex” and “texting”), is getting more and more popular among young people. Barbara Buchegger, a media expert, says that the dispatch of erotic pictures is part of the young people’s world. Cyberbullying and Sexting are accompanying symptoms of social networks. “Children are not only helpless victims. Sometimes they are victims, but they are often those people who recognise what happens to others – and they are also culprits that do bad things to others”, says media educator Barbara Buchegger (Saferinternet.at) to the experts of the Bundesverband Österreichischer PsychologInnen (BÖP).

Erotic pictures or videos are sent to flirt and also within partnerships. This can lead to unpleasant consequences for the depicted person, especially when the pictures or videos fall into the wrong hands and get published on the Internet. Often there is no way to stop the spread, because the photos or videos can also appear several years later in various places on the Internet. The Internet does not forget.

It is a great challenge for children and young people as well as for their parents to deal with the digital media critically and to take responsibility, especially when it comes to taboos, such as pornography. Awareness building through educational and information trainings is required. On the one hand it is about a careful introduction to the medium Internet, as well as a critical examination of the content. On the other hand it is about the sexual education of children and adolescents. Is it possible to learn a critical and constructive approach to the Internet? What can parents do and how can they start?

Young people must not be left alone in the online world. They need to develop awareness of potential risks, whether in the real world or in the virtual world. Openness is required! For parents it should therefore not be a taboo to talk about with their children about sexuality and also about Internet pornography as well as sexting. Conversations about sexuality are often difficult, especially when the topic has been excluded in families. But even if parents sometimes believe that their children already know everything, there is a great need for education right now in the time of digital media.

In the following, new ways are presented to engage into a dialogue with children in order to deepen relationships and build trust. Through stories, case studies and various texts, the philosophical dialogue enables parents to access a different approach to the topic of Internet pornography.

Doing philosophy is about motivating and encouraging young users of new media to ask questions and to promote their critical thinking and their ability to reflect. Furthermore, they should be sensitized to the ethical dimensions. But how can I sensitize my child? How can a dialogue develop in a way that children want to talk about their own experiences and thoughts?

The philosophical dialogue

A philosophical dialogue is more than just talking. It is an activity, a shared inquiry, a way of critical thinking and reflecting together. It helps to develop tools to explore underlying causes, rules and assumptions and can be very creative in finding new ways of solving problems. The philosophical dialogue is used in education and prevention. Doing philosophy means dialogical as well as communal inquiry. It encourages children and adolescents to ask questions and not accept everything as given. What are friends? Are Facebook-friends real friends? What does friendship mean? Do I know something because I´ve read it on the Internet? What is knowledge? How do I know what is true? When do I know someone? Can I trust someone I have never met personally? What is trust?

It is important to ask different types of questions, for example:

  • Questions of clarification
  • Questions that probe assumptions
  • Questions that probe reasons and evidence
  • Questions about viewpoints or perspectives

The following materials offer you the opportunity to apply the philosophical dialogue to the daily family life. By strengthening the soft skills and reflective competences, the self-protection factors are strengthened and the abilities to resist external influences are promoted. It is part of a holistic method of health promotion which actively supports messages of prevention.

The provided materials contain exercises and discussion plans concerning the topics: friendship, responsibility, respect, the power of the image, …

Using the manual

In this part you will find a manual for the joint reflection and the philosophical dialogue. We will now briefly explain how to use those resources.

The manual contents three types of resources:

Leading ideas
Leading ideas are brief philosophical explanations which should help parents better understand the different concepts or philosophical ideas that pop up in the stories or case studies. It merely intends to clarify the way we focus on the given topic and to give a few clues so that parents and children may reflect on the topic and explore all the different concepts involved.
Discussion plans
A philosophical discussion plan usually consists of a list of questions which generally deal with a specific concept, relation, or problem. The questions may form a series, with each question building on the previous one, or they might form a circle or spire where each question focuses on the topic from a different point of view. The basic idea is that questions should help build up a dialogue and set a structure for that dialogue.
The exercises in the manual focus on more specific aspects. They are not aimed at sparking free dialogue. The goal is to work on specific aspects related to: • Concepts: clarifying, setting limits, use, translation etc. • Skills or abilities: The exercises aim at practicing some specific skills or procedure.

Eine Auswahl von Fallbeispielen und Geschichten, die als Einstieg in das Gespräch mit Ihrem Kind/Ihren Kindern dienen können:

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