This Christmas, kids across the country will wake up to find technology under the tree. Smartphones, iPads, new computers, and more will delight youngsters and the parents who chose the perfect gift. Why not give kids the opportunity to be tuned in, to play video games, and to get online: it’s instant access to the world! From homework help to friends and fun, the internet gives kids the keys to the universe, but without the right precautions, it also opens the door to serious risks:
Cyberbullying is a huge playground of aggression and intimidation that stretches across social media, texting, online gamine, and security breaches. One in three young adults have experienced some form of it. It can also come in a variety of forms ranging from sending mean messages on social media or through texts, to stealing a person’s account information and sending damaging pictures or messages. Very few teens tell their parents that they are being bullied across technological means. One way to help with this phenomenon is to be forthright in discussing the reality of these events and that your kids can come to you if anything happens. It would be great to let your kids know when you give them technology for Christmas, that, “hey, these things are happening, we know about it, and we want you to be okay enough to let us know if any of these things happen to you.” It would also be useful to let your kids know that they are not alone, telling them the statistics around these happenings might alleviate their sense of alienation. Letting them know that it is okay to tell you what is happening might make them feel less alone was well.
2. Posting private information
Definitely educate your kids about the dangers of posting information online. It is hard to imagine that they know not to when we as adult’s post information all the time. If we are subject to hackers, they are too. Talk to your kids about establishing online boundaries and about limiting the information they input on sites that may be phishing.
3. Posting things that might harm them later in life
There isn’t any harm in letting your kids know that posting incendiary or controversial photos and statements online can later come to haunt them. Having a neutral presence is best given the way that trolling and social media can turn something small into a wave of anger. People change throughout their lives, as do their opinions. Let them know that privacy and having a private life can be very valuable.
There is so much more to educate your kids about—phishing, cyber predators, falling for scams—which means that so much of this comes down to educating your kids when you give them devices. Let them know the ways in which they can be taken advantage of, the ways in which social media can be a dangerous playground, and the ways in which leading a life where privacy is valued can be a benefit them for the rest of their lives.