Parents are raising their children in the digital age, and the Internet has become integral to everyone’s life. It can be an excellent resource for kids to learn and play, but it also contains risks that your child may not understand yet.
In today’s world, where so many spheres of our lives are lived on the internet, it’s imperative that parents and teachers make sure that kids learn the responsible behavior they need to navigate their online lives wisely.
Teaching your children responsible behavior on the internet should be an ongoing conversation in your household, whether they are six or sixteen years old. Whether it’s cyberbullying or inappropriate language, there are ways you can help your children learn to act properly in the online world without being overly restrictive or unrealistic about their activities online.
Here are 10 ways to teach children how to be responsible on the internet, whether in the classroom or at home.
1) Kids will eventually learn to use a phone or tablet, so start early
You might think, “I’ll just wait until my kids are older to teach them about being safe online.” But you should know that if your child is old enough for a phone or tablet, they are old enough to learn how to use it responsibly.
So sit down with your child and start talking to them about what they know so far. Then, teach them how to safely use a smartphone or any other device, and ensure you follow through by setting rules for what they can do online.
2) Educate them
One way that can help teach children responsible behavior is through educating them. For example, parents can hold a family meeting or talk with their children individually and ask them questions about how they use technology and what they see online.
Parents can also discuss what’s appropriate for kids to do online and what’s not, as well as offer suggestions for things to do instead of engaging in inappropriate activity.
The younger they are, the more frequently you should talk about it. A child’s brain is at a stage where they are forming most of their concepts and principles, so you want to give them as much information as possible.
If your children can’t tell what appropriate online behavior is from what isn’t, it could lead to problems down the road. Therefore, parents must have these talks with their children often.
Here are some ways you can educate children about responsible behavior online:
- Explain why it’s important for kids not to post inappropriate pictures or videos of themselves online.
- Show them what sites are appropriate for kids and which ones aren’t.
- Ensure they know how to use privacy settings, so other people don’t see what they’re posting or doing.
- Let them know that no one is allowed to ask for any personal information from them, like where they live or their phone number.
- Remind kids never to give out their passwords and show them how easy it is to change one.
3) Be clear and concise with rules – then they are less likely to break them
Be clear and concise with rules. When you make rules and stipulations, be sure to follow them yourself. This will help your children understand that if they want something from you, they need to do what is expected of them to get it.
If a child does not follow this rule, their actions must have some consequence. It can also help teach self-control to those struggling with this in other areas of their life.
4) Discuss consequences
One of the best ways to teach children responsible behavior on the internet is to discuss possible consequences before they happen. In other words, you can use scare tactics to prevent them from doing something or let them know what will happen if they do something wrong.
Consequences are often cited as a way of teaching children how their actions affect themselves and others.
How can discussing consequences help? First, parents and teachers need to know that discussing consequences does not need to be punitive. Instead, parents and teachers can discuss with children the potential outcomes of their actions, asking them what they think might happen if they do something.
This type of discussion is collaborative in nature; all parties involved have a voice in what happens next.
5) Set up parental controls
Setting up parental controls can help you regulate what your children do online. For example, you can monitor their activity and set up filters that will restrict what they see and when they can access certain sites.
Parents should be aware of how easy it is for kids to encounter inappropriate content, with just one click of a button. Hence, it’s important to ensure that protections are also in place for these situations.
While many parents opt for blocking all internet browsing, this may not work well if your child needs to complete an assignment at school or research something they are curious about. Instead, blocking only certain websites may be more appropriate and helpful while still allowing them access to most of the internet.
6) Supervise their activities
Supervising their activities can help with everything from preventing them from accessing inappropriate content to ensuring they don’t spend too much time online. Plus, monitoring what they do is important for safety reasons (e.g., cyberbullying).
If you notice anyone you don’t know getting too close to your children online, get their details and check them on Nuwber to know their real identity. Talk to your children about their friends and ensure they are not getting into trouble online.
Look through their devices periodically and ask them what they’re surfing online. If you find something inappropriate, talk to your child about why it’s a bad choice and tell them that if they ever see anything like that again, you’ll know.
You can also use this as an opportunity to explain some concepts behind respecting people’s privacy. You can share articles or stories with your kids that highlight issues around online bullying, cyberbullying, or privacy and have them discuss what they think might be effective solutions for these issues.
7) Don’t jump down their throats when you catch them in action; it doesn’t teach anything
Some kids are naturally more responsible than others regarding online behavior, but all kids need guidance. So when your child is using the internet, and you see them doing something they shouldn’t be, don’t start scolding them right away.
The point of this type of interaction isn’t to punish them; it’s to teach them how it’s better for them to behave in a certain situation.
So, when you catch your child in action, tell them that what they’re doing is wrong and why it’s wrong. Give specific examples from their own life so they can understand the consequences.
Provide an opportunity for your child to apologize if they did something wrong and ask what they would do differently next time if they find themselves in that same position again.
8) Be an example
One of the best ways to teach children about being responsible with the internet is by being an example. If you are not using your computer responsibly, how can you expect your child to?
The first step is modeling good behavior by teaching and setting rules for the appropriate use of technology. Setting those rules upfront and sticking with them will help both you and your child learn what’s appropriate and what’s not. You can also talk with your child about why certain behaviors are considered inappropriate online.
Educating children about responsible behavior on the internet is not a simple task. It takes time and patience from both parents and teachers. However, when it comes to teaching children about responsible behavior on the internet, they need to know what can happen if they don’t follow basic guidelines.
Teaching these concepts may help teach children how better to protect themselves in their online interactions with others.
There is no foolproof way to prevent children from getting into trouble on the internet or smart devices, but if we all take steps together, it will make an impact.