5-Ways-to-Make-Sure-Your-Child-Is-a-Responsible-Digital-Citizen

There’s a saying that the current generation are being “raised by the internet”, and since the pandemic, this statement has only gotten more true! From online learning to Zoom playdates to virtual graduations, our children have had almost every aspect of their lives go digital. Now, more than ever, it’s incredibly important to ensure that every child is raised with the right mindset, so they can be responsible digital citizens.

A digital citizen is anyone who can use and create information effectively, as well as engage with other users and content in a critical and ethical manner. According to UNESCO, a digital citizen is defined by five main domains:

    1. Digital Literacy
    2. Digital Safety and Resilience
    3. Digital Participation and Agency
    4. Digital Emotional Intelligence
    5. Digital Creativity and Innovation

In this article we will go through all five domains and explore what you can do as a parent to make sure that your child is equipped to become a responsible digital citizen!

1. Digital Literacy

This skill involves the ability to find and evaluate clear information through media on digital platforms. Simply put, your child needs to know if they find false or misleading information when they’re surfing the web. 

What you can do: 

  • Test your child’s awareness of what fake news can look like
  • Teach them to watch out for less legitimate websites. Some clues can be: 
    • having poor grammar
    • websites ending in .biz or .info
    • lacking a https tag at the beginning of the URL
    • invasive advertising
Digital-Safety-and-Resilience

2. Digital Safety and Resilience

There are some very real dangers that your child could potentially run into on the internet, such as cyberbullying, radicalisation, and disturbing content. It can be difficult to censor any and all inappropriate content to protect your child, so equipping them with the skills to handle these situations may be more useful.

What you can do: 

  • Consider installing parental control software on your child’s devices to be able to monitor and restrict the content they’re being exposed to
  • Always have an open line of communication between you and your little one, so they never feel afraid to come to you for help in the worst case scenario

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3. Digital Participation and Agency

Your child’s online identity starts being crafted from the moment you post that picture of your ultrasound on Instagram, to when they create their first social media account. So make sure they’re aware of the short and long-term effects of their (and your) actions in the digital world. 

It’s also important to have a healthy balance between everyday life and screen time. Technology can be a powerful tool to stay connected to your little one and feel safer about their wellbeing and whereabouts. However, too much screen time may prevent your child from being present and connected with their surroundings. 

Digital Participation and Agency

What you can do: 

  • Educate your child on the potential consequences of what they post on social media and the way they conduct themselves on the internet
  • Remind them that nothing online can ever be truly private! 
  • Try to create opportunities for them to engage with the world without technology, like outdoor play and phone-free mealtimes. 

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4. Digital Emotional Intelligence

Having emotional intelligence is definitely a skill that your child should learn, for all aspects of their life! But being able to empathise with others online is also a key part of digital citizenship. Just as your child has the potential to become a victim of cyberbullying, it’s important to make sure they know that acting cruelly towards others online is never okay. 

What you can do: 

  • Remind your little ones that there are real people existing behind every virtual profile and social media account. Before sending anything, they should hesitate just as they would to say something insensitive to a person in front of them. 
  • Teach them to report cyber-bullying and abusive behaviour online. 

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5. Digital Creativity and Innovation

Technology can be a powerful tool for your child to develop their creativity. By promoting innovation and creativity during early childhood education, your little ones can learn to process their worlds in a resourceful and imaginative way.

What you can do: 

  • Video games and “fun” websites can be great for your child to acquire both play and learning. Try introducing your little one to (safe and appropriate) websites where they can express themselves!

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Your kids are probably already immersed in the digital world. This means that raising them to be responsible digital citizens should be at the top of your to-do list! How do you teach your kids good online practices? Let us know in the comments!

References:

Digital Creativity and Its Importance to a Child’s Development. Digital Kids Asia-Pacific. (2019, December 6). https://dkap.org/digital-creativity-child-development/

Kids Digital Citizenship: The Role of Parents, Guardians, & Educators. Digital Kids Asia-Pacific. (2019, October 25). https://dkap.org/parents-role-kids-digital-citizenship/

Stuckwisch, B. (2019, August 9). 9 Lessons To Teach Children About Digital Citizenship. Safe Sitter®. https://safesitter.org/digital-citizenship/.