I am often asked how does one keep up with the pace of the online world and make sure that I really am safe online. Reality is – no one can. Every other day we hear a story in the news about another cyber issue we need to keep ourselves and our kids safe from. What we can do is teach ourselves and our kids to be Cyber Savvy Citizens. Being a Cyber Savvy Citizen involves remembering to follow six simple principles:
- Remember to protect private information for yourself and others.
- Use your heart and respect yourself and others online.
- Stay safe online by listening to your gut feelings.
- Stand up to cyberbullying when you see it happening.
- Balance the time spent using digital devices with other activities.
- If in doubt seek help from a trusted adult.
As students get older they do tend to need a reminder about what this really means, especially as they get caught up with the excitement of social media and keeping up with their peers. How as parents or teachers can we help our kids be safe online? Here are a number of suggestions:
- Ask the child to show you what they have set their privacy settings to
- Ask the child to help you set your own privacy settings and use it as a conversation starter about what are the good choices to make
- Talk as a family or class about the importance of your online digital footprint
- Google yourself and ask the children to Google themselves and talk about the results which come up (ask them if they are embarrassed that Mum or Dad saw the photos they had posted or what if the teacher saw it or even the principal)
- Remind them to think before they post, as once it’s online it’s always online and you never know who is going to save, copy, forward or post your photos, videos or even words
- Use articles in the newspaper or news to start conversations about current cyber safety issues
In 2016, digital citizenship is not a once off check-in to say: yes, I’m a Cyber Savvy Citizen. It is a mentality that I’m a Cyber Savvy Citizen 24/7, 365 days a year.