You instill values in your kids like respect, kindness, and integrity, hoping they use these morals in the real world to be upstanding citizens in society. Now in today’s digital age, you must also show them how these same values apply to their online life so they can be good digital citizens.
So what do these values look like online?
- Respect your fellow online citizens. That means no name-calling, no bullying, and no harassing behavior of any kind. It also means not posting mean or hurtful comments on social media or in forums.
- When your kids interact with others online, they should always be kind and helpful. That means offering support to others in forums and groups, being understanding when someone makes a mistake and resisting the urge to flame other users.
- Integrity is being honest and having good moral values. That means being honest with others, owning up to your mistakes, and respecting people’s privacy–even if they’re strangers. It also means not posting inflammatory or offensive material just to get a rise out of people.
Now teaching good values to your kids on how to conduct themselves online is only one piece of the puzzle. But being a good digital citizen is not only for the benefit of others but for the safety and security of you and your kids. To keep your kids safe online, it is key that they understand potential dangers, the importance of privacy, and not sharing too much about themselves.
Let’s take a closer look at 3 key lessons you should teach your kids on how to conduct themselves online:
1. Teach your kids to identify harmful online entities such as trolls, cyberbullies, and predators.
Give them examples of interactions with these people so they can spot them if they come across them, and then teach them how to block or report these people. It’s also important to teach your kids not to engage with these people, no matter how tempting it may be.
2. Teach your kids about internet privacy and not oversharing on social media or in forums.
Getting caught up in the moment and sharing too much on social media is easy. Still, kids need to know that oversharing has consequences – even if those consequences aren’t immediately apparent. For example, sharing too much personal information on social media can make it easier for predators or cyberbullies to target your child. So talk with them about what type of information is appropriate to share online and what isn’t. This includes everything from detailed plans for future activities (e.g., “I’m going hiking in Yosemite National Park next weekend!”) to photos that could potentially embarrass them or be used against them by bullies (e.g., goofy poses, awkward facial expressions), or personal info such as current location, phone number, or home address. The bottom line is this: if your child wouldn’t say something or show something to someone in person, then they shouldn’t say it or show it online either.
In addition, help them set up strong passwords for all their accounts and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. The last thing you want is for your kid’s identity to be stolen or for them to become the victim of some other type of cybercrime because they didn’t take proper precautions.
3. Help your kids understand that not everything they see online is true.
Just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it’s accurate. teach them to be critical thinkers and to do their own research before believing anything they read online. This also goes for ads and sponsored content–they should know that just because something is being advertised doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy or even safe.
It may seem like a lot to keep track of, but teaching your kids good online etiquette is essential for their safety and the safety of those around them. By setting a good example yourself and having regular conversations with your kids about how to conduct themselves online, you can help them become upstanding digital citizens.