Parents are showing a strong interest in internet safety with 93% of parents establishing rules about usage and time limits, according to a recent Hart/FOSI Survey. Rules are not enough however. Rules need to be followed with check-ins to make sure that kids are learning and following them. One of the first rules we give our children is not to talk to strangers, yet kids are going to websites like Omegle, that opens with the allurement, “Talk To Strangers” and parents don’t know it. We teach our kids not to be bullies, yet cyberbullying continues to escalate with many parents unaware that their child is being bullied. We teach our kids not to lie, yet 7.5 million kids are going on Facebook under the age of 13 by lying about their age without their parents’ knowledge. Parents need to monitor online behavior to make sure kids are following rules of good digital citizenship.
Teaching appropriate behavior is ongoing. Reinforcement of what we teach is continuous. The goal is for kids to learn and then ultimately develop their own internal filters so they become responsible, independent digital citizens. As internet safety expert, Larry Magid says, “the best filter is the one between our children’s ears”, but parents need to teach children to be good filters. Monitoring what children are doing online and then teaching appropriate behavior and checking to make sure that our children are learning these behaviors is the best way to help our kids become responsible digital citizens now and when they go out into the world on their own.