The second part in our series on cyberbullying awarness and prevention strategies supports parents and caretakers in promoting good digital citizenship habits for children. Our expert partners at Prevent Child Abuse America have provided real, practical advice for building great digital citizens:
As parents, it is critical to teach your child about digital citizenship. Your children are being raised in a digital world. Schools are increasingly incorporating technology into the classroom and even toddlers are watching videos and playing games on tablets. As a result, younger and younger children are becoming comfortable with mobile devices. With that comfort comes the need for responsibility. The following are some tips for encouraging cyber safety.
As soon as your child begins to use devices with Internet access, you should provide them with clear guidelines for usage. Encourage them to:
- Keep personal information and passwords private, even from their close friends.
- Post only words and pictures that they feel comfortable with others seeing, even if they believe they are in a private domain.
- Avoid sending messages when they are angry. Ask them to consider how they would feel as a recipient before they click send.
- Hold back from responding to cyberbullying behavior. Save the information and show a parent or another trusted adult.
- Serve as an ally to friends or other students who experience cyberbullying by sharing with you or another trusted adult.
After you have established family rules for technology usage, it remains important to monitor online behavior and protect their safety. Consider adopting and adapting the following rules as your children grow:
- Keep the computer in an open space where your child will be supervised.
- Set limitations on accounts and passwords.
- Examine their social media sites and other technology to make sure they do not share personal information or inappropriate content.
- Review your child's "friend list" on a regular basis and ask your child how he or she knows each person on the list
If your family lives far from relatives, your children can use technology to maintain relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Skype and Face Time offer accessible alternatives to being together in person and can strengthen ties in between visits.
To continue promoting positive digital citizenship, share examples of how you use social media. Make sure your children are aware when you post and share upcoming events in your neighborhood or community issues you believe need to be discussed. Use social media to discuss topics you are passionate about. Join groups or like pages on books, film, sports teams, music, businesses, politics or anything else that matters to you. You might demonstrate your viewpoints by adding a filter representing a social issue to your profile picture. For example, the French flag filter has been used to demonstrate support for victims of the Paris attacks.
As parents, you can also offer opportunities to reinforce technology practices introduced in school. When your children ask questions about breaking news, help them use social media to find up-to-date information and search for "hashtags" (represented by # symbol) that correspond with news stories. When they have research to complete for school projects, you might help younger students navigate the Internet to find articles.