Kids today are digital natives, having been exposed to technology oftentimes before they could walk or talk. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are groomed for becoming good digital citizens. Armed with smartphones, tablets and computers, children are able to access a lot of content and people quite easily and quickly. Setting expectations for digital guidelines is not only a matter of keeping your child’s safety intact; it will help preserve your family’s privacy and security.
From toddlers to teens, kids are using devices for everything from games and learning programs to, in later years, social connectivity and schoolwork. The Internet is the world’s largest library and it offers a nearly infinite amount of material and numerous ways to create our own content. As children age, the responsibilities of using technology grow. While the benefits of technology are vast, it’s important for parents to help kids become good digital citizens by laying the groundwork for what’s appropriate, positive and valuable online behavior.
Tips for Parents:
- Set rules or guidelines for your child’s internet usage
- Regularly check your child’s Internet history
- Have weekly conversations about Internet manners and behavior as well as school happenings that might cue online after-math
- Know your child’s log-in credentials for email and social accounts until they are 18 years old
According to Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily, with 24% going online almost constantly. People tend to express themselves with more candor and bravado when behind a screen. There are many reasons why people act differently online, yet the fact remains that social platforms have become the new playground for bullying and bad behavior. Following precautions about healthy social interactions online will help your child become a smart and good digital user and give you peace of mind.
While it is a privilege for children to be digital natives, with privilege comes responsibility. What you or your children do on the Internet leaves a digital footprint. Even if you delete something, it never fully disappears and may be traced back to you. That’s a critical issue for kids to understand in today’s world
Here are some tips to share with your kids to be good digital citizens:
- Keep it clean – make sure language and content posted is clean – that goes for written words and uploaded images.
- Keep private information secure.
- Treat others on the Internet the way you want to be treated in person.
- Cyberbully — Think before you type and remember that there is a human behind the screen.
- If you are witnessing or experiencing cyberbullying, report it to your parents or guidance counselor immediately.
- Don’t type anything that you wouldn’t say in person.
- Don’t give out personal information, such as phone numbers, passwords, home address, last name or credit card numbers.
- Avoid sites which allow anonymous postings through forums.
It’s clear that technology is only growing and using it wisely and thoughtfully will empower us all. For kids, that means standing up for what’s right and keeping a clean history. Having healthy and open communication with your child increases the likelihood of their understanding what it takes to become a good digital citizen, and actually becoming one.
Stuart Goldstein, father of three tech savvy teenagers, is a tech product fan who has been reviewing and writing about products for three decades. Products that can be used to enhance sports performance and manage analytics are his favorite coverage subjects.