digital skills you must teach your child - child

Top 7 digital skills you must teach your child

7) Build a healthy online identity

The internet is not going away anytime soon. Just as we teach our kids to grow up to become model citizens, we should also instill in them the tools to build a healthy online identity. They should understand that any pictures, videos or articles they share online or on social media can stay out there forever.  When they become teenagers, encourage them to google themselves often. The can get an idea of what sorts of things are floating around out there and defining who they are.
Instead of allowing the internet to define them, they can start to take an active role in defining their own online reputation. As teens, when they get their first job, encourage them to set up a Linked In account.  They can start placing their work and volunteer experiences on the website.  Sponsors and mentors can leave recommendations for them.  They can start to build a professional network and reputation that they can control.  Many employers google potential employees and review their social media activities prior to hiring them to make sure they have no online red flags. Keeping track of their digital identity and digital footprints i.e. what kinds of images, tweets, comments, they post online are critical digital skills kids must learn before venturing out into the real world.

 

digital skills you must teach your child - computer

6) Develop a digital IQ

Just like an Intelligence Quotient (IQ) kids should develop a digital IQ i.e. an ability to think critically when they approach digital media. They should learn early how to navigate between trustworthy websites and websites that may have harmful or false content. When my 8-year-old asks me one of her “why” questions, whether I know the answer or not, my response is typically, “let’s look it up”. We go online together and I’m able to show her which sites are trustworthy and which to avoid. Your children should also learn that anything they look up can be tracked back to them.  This is especially important for when they get a job. If they have questions about sex, drugs or other questionable material, googling these topics on a work computer could get them fired. They should learn how to safely look up material without leaving a damaging digital footprint.

 

digital skills you must teach your child -reading

5) Manage digital privacy

It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of privacy online. Before they post anything online, they should ask themselves, “Would I feel proud if my parents or employer saw this information about me?”  If the answer is no, they should not post it. Additionally, teach them to think twice before providing their name, address, email, etc to websites just because they ask for it.  Most definitely they should NOT give out their social security number or bank account information online.  Teach them how to spot “phishing” emails and websites that seek to obtain your personal information for their purposes. Not everyone online has their best interests at heart and they should learn this early.

digital skills you must teach your child -child

4) Manage screen time

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screen time apart from video chatting for kids less than 18 months.  From 18-24 months screen time should comprise of high quality programming for kids like PBS or Sesame Street.  It’s preferable that parents watch these programs with their kids so they can explain what they are seeing. For ages 6 and above, you should place time limits on different kids of media they have access to.  It should definitely not replace sleep, schoolwork, outside play etc. Develop a standard approach to screen time that works for your family and stick with it.  For example, in our home, our kids don’t watch TV during the week simply because there’s just not enough time to. They can watch TV on the weekends if they’ve completed their homework and chores. There’s no screen time during mealtimes so we can focus on spending time together. There are no televisions or computers allowed in the bedrooms. Computers are located in high traffic areas in our home. Develop a healthy approach to screen time for your family and your kids will be more likely to adopt it as they mature.

digital skills you must teach your child - tv

3) Develop digital empathy

As kids grow it’s important that they develop their own digital emotional intelligence. That is, an ability to be empathetic and build good relationships with others online. This can be especially true for their social media presence. A good tip for them to remember is if they don’t have anything positive to say about someone online, they should not say anything at all. Additionally, they should avoid saying or writing anything about someone online they would not appreciate if it were written about them.

digital skills you must teach your child - girl

2) Detect and manage cyberbullying

Along with digital empathy, they should be able to identify cyberbullying and how to handle it. They do not have to be “friends” with anyone online they do not wish to be. They should learn to distance themselves from people who bully others online and should definitely not take part in it. If you are concerned for their safety, you may ask for your child’s login and promise not to use it unless it’s an emergency. Try as much as possible not to penalize kids for being honest about what their social media activities are. They’ll be more likely to come to you with an issue or concern if they feel safe to do so.

digital skills you must teach your child -computer

1) Manage cybersecurity

They should learn to create strong passwords and change them often. Teach them to detect cyber threats e.g. email scams, malware, etc.  For those who play online video games make them aware that people can present themselves in a false light to gain trust. Someone with a profile of a 12-year-old girl can be a 50-year-old man with negative intentions. They should not chat with people they don’t know online. They should avoid giving out personal information or agreeing to meet with someone offline. Have an honest talk with your child about these risks and practice scenarios they may encounter and how they would handle them.  A proactive approach to online security will help keep them safe as they learn to navigate the online world.

Share your top digital skills you teach your child!

  • Uzo O.

    Quite insightful Dr. Eze. I’m happy reading this because it shows I’m on the right track in teaching my kids about about digital safety. One thing I do have my kids do for sites that ‘insisit’ on a date of birth and email, I have them enter a generic date such as December 31st 20xx and MY email address. 🙂

    • Dr. Eze

      Thanks for your comment Uzo. What a great idea! I’m glad teaching your kids to take an active role in their internet safety is paying off. Thanks so much for sharing!

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