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Teaching Your Kids Online Etiquette

Teaching your kid online etiquette might be simpler than you think. After all, only 5% of what children learn is from direct instruction: The other 95% comes from behaviors that are modeled for them, according to Pam Leo from the Natural Child Project. While these numbers may seem too tough to quantify, the point is that kids learn more from what you do than what you say. So if you want your kids to practice safe online habits and make smart decisions, you’ve got to practice what you preach, as we note in Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide.

Part of being a responsible technology user not only involves educating kids regarding potential dangers and ways to make high-tech a more organic part of everyday life. It also involves knowing when to disconnect your devices and make connecting with your family a priority instead. So set good examples regarding both when and how you use technology. Granted, can still enjoy your own online connected time for work or play as well. But by building it into your family’s schedule and routine in a healthy way, you’re ensuring that everyone knows and is clear about not only proper rules of netiquette, but also household rules as well.

For those who truly want to make online safety a family affair, many experts also recommend focusing on the latest trend in online safety: Digital citizenship.

Microsoft offers an interactive toolkit that can help you teach it. The site offers free brochures, fact sheets and information about a number of topics, and equates the process of teaching kids digital safety with teaching them how to swim. Using it, children can start with the basics and gradually progress to learning more advanced high-tech skills.

Another great resource for families is promised by the Family Online Safety Institute. Recently, the organization announced an initiative to create an interactive online program called Good Digital Parenting which focuses on the positive aspects of connecting online. The effort is aimed at helping teach and empower kids, teens, parents and teachers to become responsible digital citizens, and hopes to offer children achievements and awards for doing positive things like volunteering online or helping others.  The organization is hoping these “gamified” program aspects and built-in tools for public sharing help start a ripple effect of awareness, and spark further interest and conversation.

“All too often, online safety discussions focus on the dangers of technology,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. He hopes this program will “transform the discussion and create resources to inform, inspire and empower kids to make the right choices online.” The idea behind the initiative is essentially to leverage existing social media platforms that young people and their parents already use, such as Facebook and Twitter, to help spread an uplifting message. To sign up for updates, parents can visit https://www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/. Teachers can also get involved, as FOSI provides them with videos and web-based activities to use to inspire their students.

For more information, also be sure to see Parenting High-Tech Kids: The Ultimate Internet, Web, and Online Safety Guide.

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