It is not that hard to hide behind the safety of our computer screens, but let us ensure our values and beliefs align with our deeds in the digital realm as well as in everyday life. We need to take a few moments to judge our online behaviors in terms of maintaining respect, kindness and dignity for yourself and the others. To put it simply, our kids need to understand the power and responsibility they have at their fingertips.
Consider the following six tips for raising cyber conscious children with strong cyberethics:
Start early. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Teach kids digital manners from the first time they log on as a toddler and build on that foundation as a child grows. Do not be afraid to include in your cyber lessons all you know about sexting, oversharing, cyberbullying, and more before a situation develops. A good rule to follow is “only share images or comments that you are comfortable with grandma or grandpa seeing”.
Words can hurt. We all know the quote, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Try to have a heart-to-heart conversation or use stories to make your children understand this essential point. In their young lives, almost every child has experienced cruel things directed at them and could draw from those incidents to appreciate the great power words have.
Empathy at a young age. Seek ways to encourage children to volunteer or pay it forward. This will give children a unique perspective into the lives of others and develop their compassion. Set them a good example by performing the same things you expect from them, including a rule of always considering others’ feelings before you act.
Credit intellectual property. Avoid a bunch of problems with a basic lesson or two in referencing. Teach them not to still but give courtesy to authors of any picture, video or quote them post online. It takes only second to add a couple of words, but it might take years for someone forgiving your liberty with other people’s ideas and any kind of intellectual property.
Create a technology contract. Make a list where you clearly outline cyber behaviors that are acceptable and the consequences if the agreement is breached. This sort of contract with your children will help them realise how serious this is and allow everyone be on the same page on understanding the basics of cyberethics.
-based on TeenSafe publication