As kids head back to school, this is a great time to talk about the importance of digital citizenship. What children do online and how they treat others can affect them in their real life, too. Here are few ways to teach them accountability for their actions while growing up in a digital world.
Kids often think that when they message their friends, the conversation will stay between them. In reality, there are all kinds of ways that online activities are recorded and stored forever, including activities kids might not want to have shared outside of the intended audience.
Recipients can take screenshots of your child’s messages (even disappearing messages), and from there, they can do anything they want with them. Remind your child to keep this in mind when they’re thinking about posting something private or potentially embarrassing. Also, encourage them to actively practice kindness when communicating online.
Make sure your child knows that people may not always be who they say they are on social media. Because of this, it’s important to explain that they should never share identifying information like their full names, addresses, phone numbers or school names with someone they don’t know in real life. Even seemingly harmless information can give clues, like putting a school mascot in a username (AJWildcat18), so keep an eye on the social media handles your kid chooses, too.
Today’s generation of kids have never lived in a world without the internet, and screen time has always been a staple in their lives. It can be easy for them to fall into the trap of just scrolling through devices on the couch. Teach your child what it means to “show up” in the real world: maintaining in-person friendships, trying hard in school, and getting plenty of physical activity. It’s also a good idea to set aside device-free time as a family to help reinforce the importance of meaningful connections.
By // Titania Jordan