Digital Literacy + Internet Safety

RAISING A GOOD DIGITAL CITIZEN

We live in a connected, documented, and technologically enhanced world.  As a parent you always want to know where your children are, even where they are on the web. Children are digital natives so it is important that they learn to navigate the internet safely. Digital literacy and internet safety have emerged as some of the most important issues in our world. Today, with half (52%) of all children now have access to one of the newer mobile devices at home: either a smartphone (41%), a video iPod (21%), or an iPad or other tablet device (8%), it is crucial that children understand how to navigate the digital world responsibly and safely. Parents should feel comfortable discussing internet safety with their child early and often so that they can manage their child’s online experience.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – FOR BOTH YOU AND YOUR CHILD

The Internet can be a great way to connect with friends and family and to nurture an interest or a hobby. While the internet is a place of many opportunities it is important to teach your children internet safety and etiquette. Parents should not feel discouraged in the face of their tech-savvy child. In fact, they can feel more empowered by familiarizing themselves with their child’s favorite sites, apps and games and by learning how to set parental controls including privacy settings, search and browser filters, and more. Remember, if you wouldn’t want them to behave inappropriately offline, make sure they know not to do it online.  The consequences can be even worse.

What You Can Do…

  • Visit your child’s favorite sites together and show them sites you approve.
  • When you’re looking for allowable sites, consider ones that don’t have too many ads and allow for parental monitoring of chats and other activities.
  • Make sure sites are age-appropriate and will also be fun for your kid.
  • Set limits. Your child should have a good balance of time spent on- and offline and should only be exposed to age-appropriate content.
  • Remind your child to treat themselves and others with respect online. Children can respect themselves by not giving out personal information and by reporting bad behavior or uncomfortable interactions.
  • Try keeping your computer in a central location.
  • Demonstrate good online behavior that your child can emulate!

CREATING AN AUTHENTIC ONLINE IDENTITY

Social networking has become an increasingly important form of communication, even for young children. Social networking includes websites from online virtual worlds (i.e. Club Penguin, Webkinz, Neopets, etc.) to more “adult” sites like Facebook, which require users to be at least age 13 to create an account. Many online gaming sites also have multiplayer options, meaning that kids can chat with other players and send them pictures or videos. Sites often have pop-up ads; remind your children that just because something is posted online does not make it true.  Several gaming sites allow parents to set multiplayer options and other privacy settings, which can be very helpful in fostering a safe online gaming experience. Parents should be aware of which social networking sites their child uses, and should view their child’s profile to ensure that they are behaving appropriately and are not divulging private information.

What You Can Do…

  • Familiarize yourself with age-appropriate social networking sites and learn how to set privacy settings on those sites.
  • Remind your child to monitor what they post; posts and pictures can get sent to others and be altered in a matter of seconds.
  • Encourage your child to think about the choices they make when they’re creating their online identity. Ask your child why they made their avatar look a certain way, what their choice of profile picture says about them or how they think their post will be perceived.
  • Set rules with your child related to online gaming. Children should not be purchasing things online without parents’ permission,

DON’T SHARE ONLINE WHAT YOU WOULDN”T SHARE IN PERSON

Just like in the “real world,” children should understand what information is private and what information can be shared. Kids should not share any family information, school information, passwords, addresses, birthdays or any other personal information and should not talk to people they do not know. Your child should also protect and respect their friends’ privacy; if their friend sends them something online, they should not share this message without their friend’s permission. Before you text, email or tweet, think about what you’re putting online, because once it’s out there it’s out there forever and anyone can see it.

What You Can Do…

  • Talk to your child about what kind of information should be kept within the family.
  • Help your child create a password with no obvious personal hints (i.e. dog’s name, birthdate, school name etc.) Remind them not to share their password with anyone other than you, not even their friends.
  • Remind your child to never agree to meet anyone they met online. If anyone asks them to meet in person, they should tell you immediately.
  • Help your child understand the difference between content and advertisements. Contests and free offers, even though they may look fun, can lead to harmful viruses that could ruin your computer.

BAD BEHAVIOR IS THE SAME WHETHER IT’S IN-PERSON OR ONLINE

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.  Unfortunately, that’s not true anymore. 1 in 3 kids have been cyber bullied.  Teach your kids to treat others online with respect.  The more you know.” – Al Roker, TODAY

Children should follow the “golden rule” when it comes to interacting with others online; treat people the way you want to be treated.  Cyberbullying, or the use of Internet applications and technologies to bully, has become a huge problem among children. Cyberbullying can vary from sending harassing or aggressive text messages, to posting mean comments on social networking sites, or stealing victims’ online identities. 85% of kids around 10 years old reported they have been cyberbullied at least once and 1 in 3 kids experience cyber bullying. Not enough of these kids talk to their parents when it happens. As a parent, it is important that you are aware of the signs of cyberbullying, the processes in place to report incidents of cyberbullying, and that you encourage your child to come to you if they feel uncomfortable.

What You Can Do…

  • Teach your child to treat people online respectfully, in the same way they would offline.
  • Monitor cues to ensure your child is not being cyberbullied. Look for signs of hurt, humiliation or embarrassment after spending time online.
  • Encourage your child not to respond to rude e-mails, comments or posts. Help them learn how to report inappropriate behavior to the sites they use or to their schools.
  • Don’t be afraid to get your child’s school involved if another student is engaging in cyberbullying. Learn the school’s policy on cyberbullying and urge administrators to take a stance against all forms of bullying.

PARENTAL CONTROLS

“Not every show is appropriate for every age group.  Since you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, Parental Controls give you the power to decide what content is appropriate for your children, and easily control what they watch – even when you’re not around.” – Natalie Morales, NBC’s Today

Parental Controls are easy to use, and very dynamic.  Did you know you can block access to specific types of TV content (e.g. TV shows with violence) within a TV rating while leaving other shows in that TV rating unlocked? For example if violence was offensive to your family, but language was not, you could lock TV14 shows with violence while leaving TV14 shows with strong coarse language unlocked. Note: these locks do not apply to On Demand.

Most importantly, talk with your kids. Parental Controls offer great advantages but to truly teach your children Media Mastery, then its important communicate expectations and your values around Media time and access.  Kids can spend a lot of time connected to the TV, Internet, and their gaming devices, and it can quickly get in the way of other things in young people’s lives.

TO KNOW MORE

Download our free eBook on digital literacy + internet safety with your kids

Common Sense Media

Netsmartz (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

TV Guidelines

TV Boss