Monday, September 27, 2010

Online Safety

The term Safety today goes far beyond the sheer physical sense.  We used to teach our young children not to talk to strangers and to wear their seatbelt.  The Internet, however, has become   an integral part of our lives and we need to teach our children how to play safely online. The online world is vast and full of people, both real and chameleon like and it is our responsibility to make sure our children know the difference, so they are shielded from unwanted contacts and content.  Here are a few tips for how to achieve this:

Get to know their "world”: Ask your kids to show you around, and play in their virtual worlds. Do it with them occasionally, not to spy on them, but to get to know the territory and find out what they're enjoying and why. See what their avatars look like and what screen names they've chosen to represent themselves. You can talk with them about what kind of message their profiles and avatars transmit about them. This is a great early lesson in new media literacy. See who their virtual friends are and what types of activities they like. Are these friends from school? If not, take the opportunity to talk about how people online aren't always who they seem to be. The No. 1 safety tip in all cases is "Talk with your kids".

Respect for self & others: Teach your child that those avatars in the Internet play-place are real human beings with feelings– they need to respect others' virtual property, privacy, and identity as much as in the real world. This is the beginning of digital citizenship, which is protective and empowering for them as they learn to navigate real and virtual social spaces. The same holds true for the child. Teach the children that they are not on their own. If anybody hurts them, they should approach you.

Read more tips by Anne Collier from ConnectSafely

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