3 Reasons To Teach Digital Citizenship To Your Child
With hybrid models and distance learning now key parts of school days, kids are spending more time online and in front of their screens. Traditionally, more time online for kids often leads to more stress for parents due to questions like ‘Is my child safe online?’ ‘Is he spending too much time on his computer?’ ‘Will his social relationships suffer?’
It might feel like all of the rules, restrictions, and balance you had in place have gone out the window. But while your child may be spending more time online, it doesn’t have to be all bad. This is the perfect opportunity to work with your child to learn more about digital citizenship. But, what is digital citizenship? Simply put, digital citizenship is the responsible use of technology. While the definition may be short, this covers a lot of ground. This means everything from online safety, to understanding your digital footprint and how to care for your devices, to finding a balance with your technology use.
While digital citizenship is important for every child to learn, it’s especially critical for Complex Learners. Complex Learners, by nature, may be impulsive, reactionary, and emotional. This can be a troublesome combination online. But through learning how to be a good digital citizen, you can educate, empower, and enrich your child’s time online.
So much of digital citizenship is learning the responsible and appropriate way to use technology. This means helping your child understand that we shouldn’t run with our devices or throw our Chromebooks when we get frustrated. But it also means educating your child on how to behave online. This is especially important since time online may now equal time ‘in school’ with his teacher and classmates. Is it okay to type something you wouldn’t say in person just because you’re online? Is it expected behavior to stray from the website your teacher sent you so you could play a computer game instead of solving math problems?
Responsible technology use requires a lot of trust and by teaching your child what they can do to gain and keep your trust while online, you’re encouraging them to be good digital citizens!
By teaching your child what it means to be a good digital citizen, you are empowering them to take an active and engaged role in their own technology use. By gaining the skills to be more reflective on their technology use, your child will learn to listen to their gut if he sees something that seems off while browsing the web and know the steps he can take – like closing out of the website or finding a trusted adult to talk to.
You’re also empowering your child to recognize when he needs to take a screen break. Time spent online can be educational and fun, but too much time on social media or just too long staring at the screen can have a negative effect on anyone’s mental health. By discussing this openly with your child, he can begin to recognize his own warning signs like agitation or anxiety that indicate it’s time for a break!
With responsible technology use comes a much richer and fuller online experience. By learning what it takes to be a good digital citizen, your child will uncover skills that he’ll be able to use for the rest of his life. Like recognizing what makes a website a trusted website or understanding what’s appropriate information to be shared online. Through lessons about communicating online, you can also help your child understand that not everything online is real and how difficult it is to convey tone digitally. This can help your child avoid miscommunication and unnecessary fights with friends.
One of the most important outcomes of teaching digital citizenship is helping your child learn about their digital footprint. Anything posted or shared online, can never really be taken back. This understanding can help your child think twice before he posts any pictures, video, information, or comments.
Just as you guide your child through learning how to be a reliable friend, it’s equally important to teach him how to be a responsible digital citizen. Luckily, there are countless resources out there for parents and educators with fun lesson plans and videos around teaching digital citizenship to help!
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