DIGITAL LIFE / TIP SHEET / DIGITAL CITIZENSHIP / REV DATE 2016 www.commonsense.org/educators
CREATIVE COMMONS: ATTRIBUTION-NONCOMMERCIAL-SHAREALIKE
What’s the Issue?
We may think of our kids’ online, mobile, and technological activities as “digital life,” but to them it’s just life. In their world, being able to connect and communicate 24/7 from just about any location is normal – and expected! Between kindergarten and fifth grade, kids go through rapid growth in learning. From playing games on their mom or dad’s cell phone, to learning how to point and click a mouse, to navigating online by themselves, kids this age are participating in a connected culture.
Why Does It Matter?
The stakes are high because our kids’ technological abilities can be greater than their maturity and judgment. Having unrestricted access to information and people can result in gaining a wealth of information and experiences but also access to inappropriate content. Just as kids learn to eat properly, swim safely, or drive a car carefully, they need to know how to live in the digital world responsibly and respectfully. Their success depends on their abilities to use digital media to create, collaborate, and communicate well with others. Those who master these skills in using digital tools will benefit from the digital world’s awesome power.
common sense says
- Use bookmarks and safe search. Teach your child to bookmark his or her favorite sites. This way, your child is less likely to go somewhere online you don’t want. Use safe search options on web browsers, such as Epic or DuckDuckGo, to make sure your child can search safely.
- Consider using filtering and blocking software. Some parents find these tools to be useful to help protect younger children from accessing inappropriate content.
- Have older siblings help. Have your older children help teach your younger children how to be responsible and safe online. Let the older ones know that you want them to help you protect their little brothers or sisters online.
- Share wisdom. Kids often don’t understand how their actions affect others. We do. We teach kids to choose their words carefully, play nicely with others, and respect their teachers. Now we have to extend those lessons to a vast, invisible world. As a parent, you can translate your values into the digital world and help kids understand the implications of their actions.
- Seek balance. If our kids are going to thrive with digital media, we must balance the negative with the positive, privacy with protection. As our children grow, they need more independence and privacy. But parents have to be sure their kids know how to be safe and responsible before letting them loose.
- Keep an open mind. We don’t see the world the way our kids do. We don’t help our kids when we judge their lives through the lens of a non-digital world. It’s important for us to understand that our kids will spend much of their lives in a connected world, where everyone creates and communicates. We need to help them to enjoy it and learn from it.