Monday, October 19, 2015

Digital citizen week at commonsense media: Time to have the Talk

Dear all,

An area that I find many parents are fearful of addressing their children about is the internet. I believe this is because we see our sons and daughters as digital natives. This term was put forward by Marc Prensky in the early days of the 21st century and has invited much discussion, as it implied a gap between those who have grown up surrounded by technology and their parents and teachers who have not. I have to admit that at first I saw much truth in this argument but as the years have passed I now believe that just being surrounded by technology may make you a native but that doesn't necessarily mean that you know more than digital immigrants who are willing to learn.Yes, your sons and daughters may hear about the latest apps and trends first but that doesn't mean you can't keep up to date as well. As with many 21st century adolescent fads they pass quickly and are rarely analysed or investigated deeply by our children. I believe it is very possible for parents who are willing to spend time on sites like commonsense media to be able to engage their children in conversations about how and why they use technology and the internet.

Be brave, start to talk to your children about what they are doing on the internet.


It’s Time to Have “The Talk”
You don’t have to be an expert on texting, Instagram, Minecraft -- or whatever else your kids are into -- to have The Talk. Start by reading up on what's going on in your kids’ world (foryounger kids and older kids). Ask them to show you what they like online, and why. Make sure to listen :) Then, express a few basic expectations, with the understanding that this isn't a one-and-done kind of chat. Good luck (you’ll be fine)!
Here are the 5 basics to cover during The Talk:
Try to instill a sense of empathy in your kids. Remember: there’s someone else on the other side of the screen.
  • Younger kids: Treat others like you want to be treated -- and always follow a website’s rules for behavior. Ask: How do you see other kids behaving online? What are some nice things you’ve seen other kids do?
  • Older kids: Post constructive comments, and avoid getting into flame wars with trolls. Ask:What kind of positive behavior do you see online?
Talk about what’s OK for kids to share online and what’s not.
  • Younger kids: Get kids to think about safety without scaring them. Don’t share your name, address, school, age, etc. Ask: Why don’t we want strangers to know certain things about us or our family?
  • Older kids: Don’t broadcast your location, send photos to strangers, or share passwords with friends. Ask: What kind of information can be unsafe to share, and what’s fair game?
Just because it’s online doesn’t make it true. Not everybody is who they say they are.
  • Younger kids: Teach kids to be detectives. Ask: How can you tell whether something is true online? What are some signs that something might not be true?
  • Older kids: Use reputable sources. Learn to recognize red flags. Ask: How can you tell what’s a reliable source of information? What are some signs something’s a scam?
Think before you post. Use privacy settings.
  • Younger kids: Help kids understand what sharing something online means. Ask: Who can see what you’re doing or saying online?
  • Older kids: Encourage kids to pause before they act. Ask: What are some questions you can ask yourself before you share something online? Have you ever regretted something you’ve posted or said online?
If someone’s getting bullied or picked on, speak up, report it, or reach out.
  • Younger kids: Make sure kids know they can come to you for help. Teach them how to flag misbehavior. Ask: What would you do if you saw someone being mean online or in a game?
  • Older kids: Give kids tools to use in a crisis. Ask: If someone was being mean to you online, what would you want your friends to do? Do you know how to flag or report bullying on a social network or in a multiplayer game?
Download these tips. For more questions (and answers!), check out our Parent Concerns

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