I remember when I first learned to drive. I was so nervous traveling out of town. Afraid I would miss a turn. Or even worse, was to wind up in a large metropolitan town like, Raleigh, Charlotte and get confused with the many lanes and turns. Often, I would have my Rand McNally Road Atlas on the seat next to me or if I were fortunate to have a ‘co-pilot’ in the passenger seat, I would have them read the map out loud and help us get on the right roads.
Today, I have the trusted maps on my smart phone. Regardless if I use google maps, apple maps or others, I feel much more confident with my map guide directing me step by step—sometimes ‘she’ tells me a road mark to see and turn near, etc. I am a much more confident driver with my smartphone maps guiding me to my destination.
Technology has truly come along way through the years. It has many pluses that make it a great tool for doing many different things. However, there are some things we need to know to navigate how to get around on our digital devices. Just like when we learn to ride a bike or drive a car, we have to learn the safety measures that are needed to ensure we are safe and our children as we navigate the internet.
In the past couple of years, we all have been forced to spend more time than ever before on the internet from meetings, ordering groceries, doctor visits, worship and on and on the list can go. Our children of all ages have spent more time on their devices doing school, staying connected to family and friends, etc.
When using digital means to connect and communicate we must know how to present ourselves in a safe and healthy way. Helping children learn to navigate on the internet is very important. Here are some dos and don’ts for when on devices:
- Don’t give out personal information such as home address, school name or phone number
- Keep your location private
- Never send pics to strangers
- Keep passwords private except for parents or a trusted adult
- Do not download anything without permission. It may contain a virus that could contaminate your device.
- Tell an adult if you receive a mean or strange message.
- Limit your friends to people you actually know.
- Important numbers need to be kept private –such as bank cards, social security numbers, etc.
- Help your children to set up strong passwords without any identifying information. The longer the password the harder to crack.
- For the parent or caregiver continue to monitor your child’s online activity, frequent the online sites they visit and continue to have conversations about internet safety.
Technology brings many advantages to our world—ordering groceries online, doing research, and more. We have quick access to so much in the matter of seconds. But it is easy for us to think that everyone out there is nice as our friends and family. But the truth is everyone out there does not care about our safety and really may be looking for ways to exploit, connect to, etc., our children.
American Girl’s Smart Girls Guide, Digital World book shares a ‘Digital World Contract’ that can be used and signed by the child and a parent.
Digital World Contract
- I will not sign up for any site without my parents’ ok.
- My parents and I will preview a site together before deciding to sign me up.
- My parents and I will register for my account and set privacy setting together, and I will not change any settings myself.
- My parents will have the usernames and passwords to my accounts I have.
- My parents will ‘friend’ and ‘follow’ me on all my sites and will be able to see everything I post.
- I will never post my last name, my home address, the name of my school, or other information that identifies me or family—either in words or in pictures.
Mom or Dad
Start now with having conversations with your children about their online world regardless of their age. Help them to see that your role is to help them to be safe on their devices. You can create your own ‘Digital World Contract’ using the guide above or making it unique to your family. Start now making your child’s online world safer.