Having “The Talk” With Kids In A Digital World
The “Talk” is not just about sex, it’s about how their digital lives today, will affect them for the rest of their lives.
- 92 percent of teenagers are online every day.
- If you took all the kids in the U.S. age eight and under, 75 percent would have already used some kind of app.
- More than ever, parents need to have a good talking with their children about staying safe in an increasingly cyber-focused society.
How can parents get started?
An article at commonsensemedia.org says that a good place to start is to simply ask your kids to share with you their online passions. This will be after you’ve read up a bit on what kids are up to online these days.
- Outline a few ground rules.
- Make sure your kids know that this “talk” is not a one-time event; it’s the beginning of a process that will evolve as your kids get older and more prolific in the digital world.
- Don’t be authoritarian! Be a leader, but not overbearing and critical.
- Ask younger kids to tell you some nice things they’ve seen other children do online.
- Ask older kids to explain what kind of good things they’ve seen kids their age do online.
- Inform your kids not to get sucked into angry posting back and forth with “trolls.” If they’re prone to this, they have too much time on their hands.
- Ask your kids what they think is okay to share online and what’s not okay. Then tell them never, ever to reveal their name, address, age or other personal information online.
- Tell older kids never to reveal their passwords—not even with friends—and never to send images of themselves to strangers.
- Tell your kids that just because something’s online doesn’t mean it’s the truth. You can really make this point stick by telling your kids that typing “Abominable Snowman” into the search engine will bring up half a million results, but this doesn’t mean that there actually exists a raging bipedal white furry beast in the Himalayas.
- Go over with your kids the signs that something is probably a hoax or not true. With older kids, review the signs of a scam and what reliable sources of information are.
- Tell your kids that every time they want to post something, especially an image of themselves, to count 30 seconds after the decision to post it, to see if afterward they still want to. Explain that impulsive posting could be costly.
- Ask your kids who can see what they’re posting.
- Explain about privacy settings.
- Ask which is more likely: regretting never having posted something, or, regretting having posted something.
- Teach your kids how to flag bullying behavior.
- Ask them to describe to you what cyberbullying is.
- Never make your kids feel that they will “get in trouble” or it’s their fault if they report being victims of cyberbullying.