The best way to teach kids how to behave online is to behave well online ourselves. If we are stellar examples of digital citizens and treat each other with respect online, our kids will pick up those behaviors and treat each other well, too.
But, kids being kids, they do seem to stay on course best with some simple rules to follow. So, here are a few easy to remember rules for behavior for the online/digital world:
1. Treat people as you’d have them treat you.
2. Don’t write anything online you would feel uncomfortable saying to a person live or over the phone.
3. Shooting from the hip never produces good results. Count to 10 and then think beore you write or speak.
4. Calling people names is a form of bullying.
5. Gossiping is a form of slander. So, we have to teach our kids this is not a great thing to do and can have serious consequences. As adults, we have to remember that as well. This isn’t just about public embarrassment but can have a profound kickback that can impact people’s lives and reputations.
6. Don’t use code online – use real words and real sentences because code can be too easily misinterpreted.
7. Never give out personal information online or off.
8. Don’t email or post inappropriate pictures or video.
9. We need to help our kids know that people who ask them to keep secrets are not thinking of their best interests and that healthy families don’t keep secrets.
10. Explain to kids of all ages that any dangerous or destructive situation online or offline needs an adult. That is, if they ever feel unsafe, they should call or go get an adult.
11. This last tip is the most difficult for some kids to get: adults are not the enemy even though their friends may believe that and this is the image portrayed in the media at times. Adults have experience and judgement even teens don’t have so it’s important we help our kids, especially teens, understand this so when we step in and try to help, they get the big picture.