In this day and age, where the world is digitizing, the Internet is like an open book for kids to navigate easily. It is so vast and deep that a child can wander easily in any direction. However, elements like parental guidance adapted by the parents can keep a check on their child's engagements over the internet.
While there are ample drawbacks to the digital world, we can't ignore the fact that the internet is the reason why today's children have a different mindset towards various aspects of life.
As perceived by many, the Internet is not a safe world for children and so parents can not do much about it. Therefore, what we can do as adults is to expose children to creative and informative avenues on the internet to make today's children Digital Citizens.
What is Digital Citizenship?
According to Dr. Park, Digital Citizenship is your self-monitored habits that affect the digital communities you join. Her team at DQ institute helps parents by enrolling children in digital intelligence-based programs which consist of emotional, social, and cognitive abilities, so that kids can learn and cope with different digital challenges.
A Digital Citizenship Curriculum:
Although the digital world can teach many benefits to kids, there are still risks that can affect a child's psyche. The risk includes cyber-bullying, scamming, hacking, addiction to technology and/or violence, etc.
Digital Citizen and Emotional Intelligence
Digital identity is like your physical identity. That is, you should have awareness of the fact that how you portray yourself online should be a reflection of your offline self. This is important for children to understand, because you don't want others to think that what you are online will differ from how you are in real life.
Children these days need to understand this concept that bad-mouthing someone or participating in heated conversations virtually can not be taken back, and so it can become a digital footprint. Also, harsh comments conveyed online can be misinterpreted as well, as the other person is not observing your body language, tone of voice or expressions.
So then the question arises. How can we help kids with building their Emotional Intelligence? Simply by encouraging kids to interact with others in person as much as they can in order to build a strong relationship so that they can talk the same way online as well.
If they are not interacting with others the way they do online then it can be a situation where parents need to wonder whether the other person is really their kid's friend or not.
The Digital Use:
Parents should make sure to limit their kids’ screen time so that they can create a balance between physical human interaction and online activities. Simply, this can be done by parents making sure to take their kids for play-dates and encouraging them to take part in social services or community activities like bake sales, competitions, adapting hobbies (which do not involve electronic devices), etc.
This will help your child to know how to keep themselves busy and functioning without being digitally-plugged.
The thing about which parents are most concerned is online safety - scamming, hacking, cyber-bullying, violence, etc. Now, these are the things from which parents can not protect their child, but at least they can teach them how to identify these risks and, if any sort of issue arises, how to cope with them in an effective manner.
Parents should also watch out for any abnormal behaviors or attitudes of their kids, rather than go through their search history which can betray their trust in you. However, if you notice them being on the internet more than normal or past their screen time, it can indicate that there might be some issue going on.
Preventing your child from sharing personal, important or sensitive information like passwords on the web, until you are not sure whether it's a legit authorized platform or person. Also, parents should not invade the privacy of their children by going through their history behind their backs.Parents should make sure to let their kids know that there's a fine line between the online and offline world.
Creating Digital Citizenship Awareness
Facebook has taken an initiative to introduce a game for younger kids where they have various choices and they need to select the right thing based on their judgments. In this way, they will learn and see how their decisions are positively impacting others.
According to Ericka Souter, teaching kids at a younger age about the dos and don'ts of the internet makes it easy for them to have a better experience in the future.