Tips for educating our children about their digital footprint:
1. Don’t lie. Don’t EVER lie to kids. They are a lot brighter than we are, and they will distrust you when they catch you out. “Why can’t I have a Facebook account?”. “Because that’s the rule, you have to be 13″. Not: “The computer won’t allow it”. They’re literal beings. When they discover John down the street has a FB account, you’re busted. HIS computer will allow it…therefore, Mum/Dad lied.
2. Start early. Talk to your children about drugs and alcohol despite the fact they’re a long way off having any interactions with addictive substances. Also talk to them about Social Media despite the fact they are a long way off opening accounts. The earlier we get the conversation started the better.
3. Monitor accounts and monitor your children’s online activities. Yes, they can be on Facebook, Twitter, whatever when they’re old enough: as long as you can see what they’re doing. There’s no difference in the fact that you monitor their tv/movie viewing or where they go out while they’re still young.
As a parent, it’s your duty to guide them and you can’t do that if you don’t know what they’re doing. You are not their friend, you are their parent. Maintain that difference!
4. Clearly to guide your children, you need to understand social media yourself. You will have several friends who HATE facebook and twitter. They curse everyone who dares to share their information and they think the world is going down the toilet due to SM.
In turn, they tell their children that they’re not allowed on there. Ever, ever, ever and “Not in my house”.
This is simply burying your head in the sand and avoiding the issue. It will cause more harm than good. I am sure you did some things as a teen that make you cringe now, and we did some of these things because they were expressly forbidden.
Understanding the ways in which our children communicate with each other will help us much more than simply saying NO and turning your back.
5. Clearly to guide your children, you must understand your online persona and what it represents. We all have several personal and business related social media accounts. However, we NEVER write things on our personal FB account without the realisation that our clients, friends and relatives could easily see it too.
Of course your accounts have security, but it just takes one person to share your status/tweet and the whole world can see it. Bang goes your security!
Your online persona is made up of ALL the things you put on the internet and some people will gather this together to determine who or what you are. We need to explain this to our children too – what they write today will be there for their future boss/partner/friends to see.
These are some basic tips in understanding our digital footprint and helping our children understand theirs too.