Our kids are digital natives. Everyone 18 years old and younger were born into a world that already had Google. Many parents and teachers, on the other hand, have “moved” to this digital world and are picking it up as we go along. Like any generation of natives who are parented primarily by immigrants, kids and teens are more fluent in the language, and often know more than we do about the culture.
All of this means that we are following rather than leading in our kids’ exploration of online interactions.
When I’ve spoken with large groups of teenagers on this issue, they say they need their parents to get involved, even when they don’t want them to be there.
Rawhide Boys Ranch has created this infographic to help adults understand – in a great, easy to absorb way – what’s happening. But don’t take my word for it. Ask your tween* or teen. Use this tool as a way to start a conversation – or better yet, many different short conversations.
If your child has a smartphone or tablet, get involved until they earn some autonomy. Don’t stop checking in, because that is what we’re here for, especially until junior or senior year of high school. When they are doing a great job, step back a little. And if (when?) they mess up, step a little closer again. This process is exactly how teens will learn the skills they need to be online and keep themselves safe while being good people. We can’t keep them safe forever, they need to learn the skills themselves.
*Please don’t let your tween on social media.
What tips do you have for guiding your kids’ behavior online?
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