It’s no secret that technology is everywhere these days. From mobile devices to educational websites, our children have access to ideas and innovations we never would have dreamed possible when we were their age. In the classroom, teachers are harnessing technology to bring learning to life and deliver personalized instruction to students, while students use it to research subjects and connect with people and places around the world.
Knowing how to use technology is now critical for students to develop the skills they need to be competitive and thrive, but it has also made parenting more complex. New opportunities bring new concerns. As parents, we want our children to learn, connect and have fun through technology, and at the same time, act safely, responsibly and thoughtfully online.
Here are four ways to help your children stay safe online:
1. Have a conversation
Have proactive, open and ongoing conversations with your children about digital safety and the use of social media and technology. Devices, sites, games and apps will change as our children grow, and so will rules and guidelines. It is important to revisit the conversation regularly.
2. Show common courtesy
Teach your children that the rules of life also apply online. Just as we tell them to say “please” and “thank you” in daily conversations, we should also make sure our family values are reflected in the way our children behave online.
3. Teach proactive self-protection
Help your children build good digital habits and ensure they have the skills they need to be responsible. Just as we teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, we should also be teaching our children that “123456” is not a safe online password and should never be used.
4. Model good digital habits
Monitor your own device use, like not bringing your phone to the dinner table, never driving and texting or turning off all devices and storing them in a common area well before bedtime. Kids follow what adults do, and they benefit greatly when expectations and good digital habits are modeled for them.
We owe it to our children to give them the tools to thrive in an increasingly digital world. We must show them how to be mindful of their online presence and footprint, and how to meaningfully interact with social networks, games and apps. We must model the ways they can protect themselves and their identity and help them learn to balance their time online within their daily life. Together, we can succeed in ensuring our children become extraordinary citizens — in the digital world and the real world.