I remember going to the park for the first time with my oldest daughter. I was so excited about our first social outing. I imagined spending most of the afternoon at the park while she played on the slide and made new friends. All of this ended, when she decided to pick up a pile and bark and throw it at another child. How quickly my excitement turned to mortification. Instead of banning the park, we tried it again. On the way to the park, we talked about taking turns on the slide and asking a child to play. For a while, I hovered around ready to step in and help her make the right decisions. Slowly, my hovering transitioned to casually observing her from the park bench. Today, she walks on her own to the local park with friends.
Parents need to approach “the online playground” in the same way. We need to start talking to children about how to behave online from a young age. As soon as they can hold a device, we sit beside them teaching them how the online world works. As they grow, we create age appropriate rules that protect them, while allowing them opportunities to explore. Technology is a powerful tool. If used correctly offers amazing benefits for our kids.
Parents can start by integrating digital parenting into the lessons they are already teaching. Behavior online and behavior offline is the same. For example, rules for communication do not change with 140 characters. Kids should be respectful, kind and thoughtful in all their correspondence. These attributes are even more important in the digital realm. In the absence of tone and expression, kid must be extra careful and thoughtful in their choice of words.
If you are putting off having the sexting talk with your child, the new study by The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in partnership with Microsoft may be the kick you need. Released yesterday, this new study exclusively looked at content that appeared self-generated by kids under 20 and featured themselves in the video or pictures. While the study does not tell us how many kids are sexting, it does offer a snapshot of what type of content is out there, how it is produced and how it is spread. Ultimately, it highlights the need for parents to talk earlier about sexting and healthy relationships both offline and online.
February 10th is Safer Internet Day. This one day event is organised by Insafe each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and devices, especially among children and young people across the world.
To celebrate Safer Internet Day, my book “Talking Digital: Tips and Scripts for Parenting in the Digital World” is free on Amazon. “Talking Digital” contains advice and helpful hints for kids in preschool to high school. Each chapter focuses on a different age with information on what kids are doing online, what topic parents should bring up, how to answer tough questions and what to do when a child makes a mistake.
Celebrate Safer Internet Day by downloading
Talking Digital for Free!
Every Friday, I post links to interesting articles and other great stuff I have come across during the week. Today, I have links on YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter as well as a few helpful digital parenting tips. If you missed it, check out Parks and Recreation’s GryzzlBox episode, a funny and thoughtful take on online privacy.
How to hide YouTube Comments by Cool Mom Tech
Why Twitter is ready to take on trolls and digital abuse by the Guardian
5 Screen Name Tips for Digital Parents by Media!Tech!Parenting!