In helping parents get to grips with their “license to parent” their kids’ digital lives, one of the most difficult challenges is how to help our kids understand that all of our actions, whether online or in real life, leave “footprints” or trails.
Of course, some kind of a “baptism of fire” always helps to refocus the mind – that social media blaps that we wished afterwards that we could have avoided. The comment made, or pictures posted late at night, didn’t look or sound as good as you thought they did at the time. We all have a “Magriet Moment” at some time, but it’s the ones that are more damaging and longer-lasting that we want to avoid!
Embracing the concept of digital parenting as a vital tool for your 21st-century parenting role means helping to build authenticity and congruency in your kids, and teaching them the importance of making sure they are the same person in real life as well as online, whether they think someone is watching or not.
The reality is that kids make mistakes. It’s a normal and important part of growing up. But today, with smartphones, cameras, and social media everywhere, anything they do can be instantly broadcast and recorded-the good, the bad, and the ugly. In our 24/7 digital world, kids come of age, learn, and make mistakes just like they always have, but the stakes are so much higher than in generations past.
The slogan, THINK before you post! is key to teaching kids the life-long practice of leaving a good footprint online.
But how can we help them turn this advice into a habit? A study by a team at Harvard University has found that the key is to give kids opportunities to grapple with the different ethical questions that come along with living in our digital world. In conjunction with this team, Common Sense Education has developed a practical curriculum to help kids from Kindergarten to Grade 12, understand what their digital footprint and identity are, what it means, and how they can manage and be in control of it.
For some talking points, videos, and even catchy songs for the younger ones, check out these fantastic, age-appropriate resources: