Digital Citizen

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Keep it simple – Try to foster a culture of conversation within your family from the get go and try to keep it age-appropriate.

Forbidden fruit – Don’t make social media or internet use a reward or punishment to diminish it seeming like a prize or reward.

Open dialogue – Make your teen the expert who can help to educate you. Asking them how to use an app or explain something on a more general level rather than asking them about themselves specifically to start with. When they feel like their opinion or knowledge is valued it can let down a lot of barriers and help them feel open to talking about their own lives. The more you discuss the minutia of everyday things within your daily lives the more likely they are to come to you with the ‘big things’ when they arise.

Walk the line – Keep the rules simple, asking for permission. Younger kids maybe shouldn’t play games or apps outside the home if they haven’t already played them in the home.

Common ground – Don’t belittle a teens interest in social media and talk about your own social media use if applicable.

Nothing gets past them – Be transparent about your monitoring their use, kids are pretty savvy at catching out parents with ‘fake friend profiles’ and are more likely to hide what they are doing if they feel like they are being spied on.

Out of your hands – Always remind them that the internet is not private and that what happens on it lasts forever. Once you put something online you no longer have control of it, it can be altered and changed and shown across the world.

Check in – with them regularly and ask how they feel about social media and their social media lives if possible.

Watch the clock – remind them just how much time you can waste staring at your phone – but try not to nag them! Difficult but worthwhile.

Constructive criticism – Teach them to make constructive comments about other people and explain to them that the comments they receive can vary from insightful to insults and that it’s always best to take everything with a grain of salt. Remind them that it’s not their fault when others make mean or hurtful comments.

Trash talk – Talk about why people might make hurtful (and sometime abusive) comments…. Maybe for attention, anonymity makes people feel like they can say whatever they want and suffer no consequences. Discuss that they have the option of reporting extremely abusive commentators if necessary and remind them that it says more about the abuser than the victim.

Shake it off – Teach them to handle negative feedback and criticism instead of hiding from it. Focus on the good parts. Help them learn from the experience and respond appropriately, a skill that your child will use throughout their lives.

Questions for the kids. 

How they would feel if someone else used their name or image publicly without their permission?

What if you found out the person you were talking with was actually someone completely different? – emphasis on whether you can blindly trust everyone you ‘meet’ online and that it’s not ok to meet someone you’ve been talking to online in real life without telling a friend or family member all about it first.

Can you ever be sure that something you think is funny is funny to everyone else? Can your words actually hurt someone even without the intent to?

Having or creating a fake profile and having a profile under the age of 13 are violations of (many) sites terms and conditions – is this a deterrent? There are now beginning to be laws and legal punishment for online impersonation – is this more of a deterrent?

Consider if you really want to gain attention for the way you look or by exhibiting other qualities and characteristics? Help them understand the consequence of their actions and choices online and how people will perceive their worth as they portray it. Why use “selfie-improvement apps” on your photos? What’s wrong with being your natural self?

The ever informative Common Sense Media have a great range of short videos with tips on social media, texting & messaging, trolls and internet safety for kids and parents.

My Pop Studio – Create by researches and media professionals at Temple University’s Department of Broadcasting and Mass Media, this is an interactive site with the goal of changing girls experiences with media messaging. Through creative play the site hopes to strengthen critical thinking and promote positive development whilst teaching them about behind the scenes of different medias with options like TV and Music studios and digital and magazine layouts.

Safe, Smart and Social – A great organization who participate in digital citizenship workshops for kids, teens and adults alike. It provides a lot of helpful breakdowns of apps and what they do and how they can be positive or negative for children and young adults to use. A very useful resource.

Motherland – A Minefield favourite, the online magazine for women who happen to be mums has a few great podcasts but the one on kids and technology is a particularly interesting listen.





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