With many schools embracing online education it is a good time to talk about the good , the bad and the downright ugly when it comes to doing anything online .
Hitherto even the most conservative person goes online, whether its the Grandma always sending messages on Whats app to the college student Snapchat, going online has gradually become the norm. One of the good things about being online especially Social Media is how easy it makes communication. However like we know social media ’s not without its ills. From cyber bullying, to false news and all sorts of vices exist and one most tread cautiously.
Children and young adults are especially vulnerable as even beyond online learning our children are exposed to alot via social media and need to be taught social media safety and etiquette.
For example Facebook morphs between a nice place where you could catch up with old friends to a boxing arena where verbal exchanges take place between friends and strangers alike. Cyber bullying is even occurring among teens and people just don’t know how to behave online. However the web can be a beautiful place if we all just learn to behave properly there. Here are some ways you can make the World Wide Web a saner place for our children and everyone.
Get on board : The best way to teach a child how to swim is by getting in the water. While I’m not advocating stalking your child , the truth is that being on social media yourself you will understand all the issues therein. This will put you in a good position to advice on pros and cons of different sites and apps.
Talk about staying safe and responsible online : You should have much needed conversations with your children about safe online behaviour. Tell them the importance of privacy settings, not talking to strangers and generally talk to them about how to behave online. Ensure that they aren’t giving away unnecessary information via educational apps and unknowingly exposing themselves to danger.
Avoid hot topics: If you avoid controversy it won’t find you. Teach your children to stay off certain discussions online . They should avoid gossiping or spreading rumours about their peers or anyone at all. They should also avoid arguing about elections, religion and each others families as such things can get very heated if care isn’t taken.
Due diligence: with the arrival of new apps like “likee” and “tik tok” we need to audit the apps our children use and make sure we are comfortable with them using them. Recently my daughter wanted to join some social networking app because her friends were on it and I had to sit down with her and find an online review. After we had read it together she was convinced it was best avoided for now. A good site for reviews is commonsensemedia.org .
Pause before you post: Teach them the importance of pausing before they post. They can ask themselves the following questions …is what you are about to post necessary ? Is it something you may regret later ? They must learn never to post in fits of anger as even when you take down your post the internet never forgets. Also no matter the provocation our youngsters should learn to never air their dirty linen online or engage in unnecessary online arguments.
Limit their time online and create an internet plan: For online learning try to limit their activities online to “school time” this way they aren’t online indefinitely. Try creating a family internet plan telling your family where and when they can use the Internet for assignments and all , what social media platforms they can use (if they are old enough)and what they are allowed to post. If you can’t create your own plan then download one here.
Employ the use of software: Try ensuring they are are safe while online by installing web filtering software. There are popular ones like Qustudio , Kapersky Safe Kids and KidLogger that allow you restrict certain content on their devices. Some of these apps have free plans so give them a try.
Look out for signs of cyber bullying : Try and look out for signs of cyber bullying like your child showing signs of being depressed or suddenly becoming withdrawn. Another sign could be your child suddenly loosing interest in their phone or acting weird around their phone or other gadgets.The important thing is to be close to your child so that they learn it’s ok to confide in you if they are being harassed, trolled or bullied online.
Teach them to be kind: Just like they would not want to be the subject of hurtful remarks, comments or bullying they too should learn to be kind to other online. The somewhat faceless nature of the internet has enabled many online trolls who leave hurtful comments or make posts that are nothing short of evil. So remember to teach them do unto others as they would like to be done unto them and be kind and courteous online.
Put your phone down: teach them to socialise and learn not to look at every single notification the moment it comes in, especially when they are with other people. Explain to them that it can be really rude when you are having a discussion with someone and your eyes and hands are constantly on your phone. They can try checking their phones at certain times a day only or set timers so they aren’t spending hours on end using an app.
Model the right behaviour : “Do as I do don’t do as I say” or something like that was a popular game at parties growing up. Children model behaviour so it would be rather hypocritical and a bit ineffective if you asked your child to behave a certain way online when you do the exact opposite. As in really who’s fooling who? While you are an adult and not bound by the same rules it’s important that your children see you as a role-model and mentor as it makes it easier for them to obey when what you say and what you do are in sync.
Monitor and keep devices : When children are signed up to education apps like Edmodo you can opt to get notifications and be sure that they are actually participating in online classes. Also, you may find that a particular child may go to bed at night while another may stay up all night browsing (especially if you have unlimited wi-fi) so it may be good to ensure they all submit their devices before they go to bed. I personally ask my teenagers to turn in their phones at night but be aware that it’s best for them to understand why they must be responsible as you will not always be with them.
These are some guides which can help us and our children navigate the wonderful worldwide web. What advice has worked with guiding your children online ?