How to Help Children Use the Internet Responsibly
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With the advent of the internet and advances in technology, almost everyone has become a digital citizen, including children. Basically, anyone who uses a smartphone, holds a social media account, and uses various online platforms, among others, is considered a digital citizen. Like any other real-life community, being part of a digital community means exercising responsible, safe, and ethical citizenship.
The Internet and Its Advantages
Countless horror stories abound from online predators to stories of digital addiction, but when used correctly, the internet can open a world of opportunities for children. It can teach them to become responsible in the way they connect with others. It allows them to be more social, more able to express themselves, and more connected to their peers around the world. The internet can also be a wonderful resource for learning.
So, how and where do we begin to educate children on using the internet responsibly?
Time for The Talk
There’s no cheat sheet when it comes to teaching kids internet safety and responsibility. But here’s a useful guideline that can help you when you need to have The Talk with your own kids:
• Introduce them to online safety at a young age.
Especially if your child is starting to use anything that involves the internet. If your child is still using the computer with your guidance, take this opportunity to introduce them to the good and bad sides of the internet. Educate them about the possible risks and dangers and what can be done to avoid them, such as using passwords and antivirus software.
• Assess if your child is ready for their own device.
As parents, you get to decide when is the right time to get your child their own device. Asking yourself these questions might help: Is your child responsible enough to keep track of their belongings? Can they follow your family rules? Can you talk to your child openly about the internet and their internet-related activities?
• Come up with an internet usage “rulebook”.
Make a family rule when using the internet. Also, make sure that as a parent, you lead by example.
Discuss rules such as not posting anything that might be rude or disrespectful to their peers and to not share private details such as their phone number and address online.
• Remind them to be respectful.
As with any community, respect is important in building and keeping relationships, and this goes both ways—be respectful toward peers and you can expect to be treated respectfully.
• Always double-check before posting.
Encourage your child to review posts and other written content before sending or posting them. It’s difficult to gauge emotions in written text, and this might lead to misinterpretation. To minimize such incidents, remind your child to stop and think about the content and tone of the message. They can even use emojis to make the tone read friendlier.
As a parent, you know your child’s developmental maturity level best. Before thinking of totally getting rid of tech by opting to sell your laptop online, use your knowledge and insights to craft an approach that is appropriate for your child and help make the internet a safer space for them.