If your family is like mine, then your kids are using digital technology more and more in every aspect of life – from learning at home or school, to socializing with friends, to gaming or shopping! Technology is amazing and carries some pretty great benefits, but with all things, not only is moderation ket, but SAFETY is of the utmost importance. I love the new opportunities that technology brings for my kids at home and at school but like any aspect of life, there are things you need to know to make positive, safe decisions.
With a budding tween on my hand, she is beginning to express more and more interest in having her own “life” on the internet. My daughter is turning 9 next week and has said she wants her own phone (not happening), social media accounts (nope) and her own email address (ok maybe). Although she is a very responsible kid, I don’t think she’s ready, nor has the need for, her own phone or Facebook account yet- but the kiddie email address is something I’ll entertain. Clearly she will probably only be able to email Mom, Dad, her Aunts or older cousins, but I think that allowing her this one thing on her long “list of wants” will be a great opportunity to begin to address the biggest, and scariest, part of the internet, which is all the vastness of it. We didn’t grow up in a technical world, but we are the last generation that will carry that title. Our kids, and their kids, will never know a world without the internet and that means that we need to teach them how to navigate this new territory safely.
Today I am partnering with the National PTA and LifeLock to help share some awesome ways that families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools. It’s all part of having a happy, healthy lifestyle. For you, your family, your friends, and the whole world – everyone benefits when you #ShareAwesome! What does #shareawesome mean? This campaign seeks to build an understanding among parents and students that no matter the device, the app or the networking site – the skills we need to be safe and positive online are similar to what you need offline. Did you know that most colleges and professionals will check your social media accounts before considering your application? It’s true! What we share online effects us in our day to day lives even more than some kids can imagine, which is why I have come up with 5 tips for kids to help them learn how to #shareawesome on the internet.
5 Tips for Kids to Share Awesome on the Internet
1. Keep your personal information to yourself. While I don’t allow my kids to engage in any games that put them in a setting where they can interact with other kids online, yet, I know that time is coming, so I have already sat my kids down and discussed what’s ok to share online and what is not. Remind them that personal information like your full name, address, phone number, and where you go to school is not information that to be shared people outside of the family. Along with that, is not sharing their passwords and log-in information.
2. What goes online STAYS online. Kids need to know that once they post something to the internet, whether it is a status update, email they send, or picture you upload, it is online forever. FOREVER. In a modern society, more and more people are looking at what you post and some of those pictures can come back to haunt them later in life. Always remind them to ask you for permission before posting something, until you realize that they are old enough and mature enough to do that on their own.
3. If you wouldn’t say it to someone in real life, don’t post it online. Many people (kids and adults) feel like when they are online they are free to say more things to people that may not say in real life. People can hide behind that screen and may be more judgmental or mean than they would be face to face to someone. Teach your kids the internet version of the “golden rule”: if you wouldn’t say it to someone in real life, don’t say it online.
4. Always check the privacy settings on the programs, games or apps you allow your children to access. There are plenty of unsavory people on the web, most of whom we don’t want our kids anywhere near. Make sure your kids accounts on whatever platforms they have access to, are set to PRIVATE. This way, they can (with your assistance) approve the people that they follow and that follow them.
5. Be aware of cyber bullying. Bullying is real, at school, on the playground, and online. Make sure you are talking with your child on what it means to be a bully and what to do if someone is being mean to them online. If you are keeping close tabs on their accounts, you can have more of a chance to spot something that you wouldn’t approve of.
If done correctly, technology can be a positive and intricrial part of your child’s lives. By balancing screen time, sports, friends, school and after school activities, you can be well on your way to raising a well-rounded kid that is loving all areas of life! I love this #shareawesome campaign’s message of teaching kids the right way to play, share and engage online. #ShareAwesome helps to celebrate students and families who use digital media and tools for good – good for themselves, their family, their friends and the whole world.
National PTA and LifeLock invite you to get involved in this #ShareAwesome by entering their social media contest! Have a smart or safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others? Snap a picture of it and share it using the hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Students who enter a photo between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will be eligible to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship! Visit ShareAwesomeNow.org to learn more about this exciting event!
How to you teach your kids about staying safe on the internet? What tips would you add?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.