Generations are growing up online. Technology is advancing at lightening speed. It is a race to keep up! Navigating the landscape of the digital world may seem daunting to many families. How do we support our children online? How do we guide them to make good choices with the information they discover? The following information aims to act as a resources for blending media and growing families.
We teach our children valuable skills for being good citizens of the world. We encourage them to be kind, good listeners and practice empathy towards their fellow humans. Advancements in technology change how our families function in the digital world. How can we find balance between real life and our digital lives? Let’s explore digital citizenship for families. First, examine how to maintain healthy boundaries of balance and mental wellness for your family. Second, protect everyone’s privacy and security. Third, consider the footprint left behind online and how will this shape your child’s identity? Begin your family media journey with this free downloadable Family Digital Citizenship Contract. It will allow your family to come to an agreement surrounding digital media, technology and screen time. You may have some adjustments to fit your family’s needs, but this is a great foundation to build upon.
Balance and wellness
It is important to talk with children of all ages about balance between media and other activities. Media is an integral part of our lives and it is sometimes challenging to see where the line begins and ends. We use it for work, school, and socializing. It helps to take note of our media usage and get a full picture. Share your weekly screen time report within your family. Begin with yourself and conduct a self check. My weekly iPhone screen time report displays my toggling between apps and email in shocking detail. Media balance supports mental wellness for children, adolescents and adults. Practice good digital citizenship for families as a team!
Privacy and Security
First, conduct a health inventory of your family’s accounts. It is important to safeguard adolescent accounts on social media and interactive apps. Avoid sharing personal information such as birthdays, schools, and schedules. Make this information private. Children should be aware of their rights online and the guidelines in place to protect them, especially as minors. Many social media platforms have minimum age requirements. In some cases, it may be a hard sell, but talk with your children about why these rules are important. Craft and share passwords with care. Secure your family’s lives online just as you would in any other capacity. Online privacy and security is a key element to strong digital citizenship for families.
Digital Footprint and Identity
We leave a footprint everywhere we go. This is true even online. Think of the politicians or celebrities apologizing for an old post or picture. True, everyone makes mistakes. Do we want those mistakes to resurface again and again? Use the contract provided above to foster conversations with your children about who they are online and who they want or hope to be. Open a dialogue with your children. Have them consider the footprint they make in their digital lives and how they want to leave their mark. Digital citizenship for families is an opportunity to learn and grow together. Certainly, it takes work. There will be difficult conversations and challenges. You can do it!
We would love to hear how you and your families approach digital citizenship and online literacy on our online forums!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.