Helping your Child Become a Good Digital Citizen
June 29, 2017
Who ever said parenting was easy? And with today's digital dynamos, our kids often know more than we do about the latest apps, games and technology. Our challenge as parents these days is to help our kids find the right balance between online and offline time, and to guide them on what it means to be a good digital citizen.
Here are some tips to engage your children in the different aspects of good digital citizenship; respecting people's feelings, privacy and property, as well as phrases you can use to help lead the conversation.
Respect people's feelings…
Being behind a screen can give children the feeling of anonymity; making them more likely to say or do things they normally wouldn't. It can be difficult for a child to imagine the consequences of their words online when they can't physically see how it affects others. It can also be overwhelming for a child to know how to handle cyberbullying. Overall, the best way to deal with cyberbullying is to prepare your child before it happens.
What you can do:
- Talk to your kids about what cyberbullying consists of and explain how it can affect someone.
- You can explain to them that they can always talk to you or another trusted adult if they feel they are being cyberbullied.
- Encourage them to take a few minutes to “cool down” before replying to something online.
- You can explain how things can be misinterpreted online; it's always best to talk in person.
- If they witness cyberbullying but are afraid that speaking up could make it worse, you can encourage them to come to you, record evidence of the cyberbullying or report it to the online platform being used to cyberbully.
- You can help your children develop good “self-talk” habits. This can help them feel more resilient against cyberbullying.
- You can talk to them about their online life. The same way you would ask your child about what's going on at school, regularly asking your child about what's going on online can help you keep up with their online activity.
- What would you do if somebody posted something that made you mad, sad or scared?
- You can always talk to me if someone is being mean to you or someone you know online and we can find a solution together.
- It can be easier to say things online that you wouldn't say in person, but always think of how it would make you feel if someone said that to your face.
Trying to keep a child's information as private as possible is a common concern for parents. This can feel impossible with all the different social media channels, games and apps out these days. However, there are ways parents can stay on top of what their kids are doing online and keep their private information as secure as possible.
What you can do:
- Talk to them about why and how their information could be valuable to people online.
- Explain to your kids that whatever they post online stays there forever.
- Using plugins such as Adblock Plus or Privacy Badger is one action you can take to increasing your child's online privacy.
- Turn off the GPS and Bluetooth function on your devices.
- Disconnect webcams you're not using, and consider covering those built into your desktop or laptop with masking tape.
- You can also help them learn how to create a strong password.
- Could someone use what you're posting to hurt you? What's the worst thing that could happen if you shared this?
- What does your online presence say about you? What do you want it to say about you?
- How would you feel if your teachers or I saw this?
- Will you regret posting this a few weeks/months/years from now?
- Does what you're about to post give information about you away such as where you live, how old you are, where you go to school, etc? Can you think of any risks of making that information public?
- Have you ever given someone your password? If so, don't blame yourself. Nothing you do gives someone the right to abuse you.
The online world can make things confusing for children when it comes to ownership and property. It can be difficult for a child to understand that downloading content illegally or plagiarizing someone else's work is stealing. Some children don't even realize they're doing it! Speaking to them about this can help make it easier for them to recognize the signs of illegitimate content online or work that has been plagiarized.
What you can do:
- Explain that downloading content illegally or plagiarizing something is the same as walking out of a store with something you didn't pay for.
- You can update your security software throughout the year. One easy way to remember is to update it whenever you set your clocks forward or back.
- Encourage them to find resources to help them properly cite their work. Most schools offer guides or even lessons on when and how to cite your work. Online resources are also an option.
- Illegally downloading content off the internet is the same as walking out of a store without paying. It is breaking the law and could result in legal consequences.
- If it seems “too good to be true”, it probably is.
- How would you feel if a classmate took your work and submitted it as their own?
- Just because other people are doing it, doesn't mean you should too.
- Just because you are able to access something online for free, doesn't mean you should use it.
For more information on how to talk to your child about their digital citizenship, check out our Digital Citizenship Guide for Parents!
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