I’ve been thinking a lot about online behaviors and how we as parents, and as responsible adults can help to shape the future of communication online.
Just today, I was chatting with some amazing moms online and there was mention of a child taking to the internet by messaging their friend to tell them that they wanted to ‘go after’ another kid. Now, you don’t know the whole story here and there is a reason for that. There are no ‘sides’ to be taken in this instance because this post isn’t about one, most likely innocent, comment made in anger by one child who is learning who they want to be in an enormous online world.
It is about our role in introducing them to this new world and shaping their perception of it.
As parents, and as the most understanding generation so far when it comes to online behaviors, its my opinion that we have a responsibility to openly communicate the positive and the negative of what lies before our children as they enter in to an online world of immediate gratification, instant communication and permanent repercussions.
Much like smoking, drinking, or worse, if they are not learning about this from you, they will turn to their friends. Who do you want teaching your child about the world wide web?
So, where do you start?
I think, I start with myself. How do I handle the urge to get mad at someone online? Do I post (tweet, Facebook, etc) in anger, or in an attempt to rally support without caring about the outcome? I need to be more cognizant of my intentions before I start typing and I need to remind myself that just walking away for a moment is always an option too.
Then, how do I handle my child’s curiosity? My daughter is only four, so its cute when she sees me working and asks if I am ‘blogging’. I asked her once what she thought ‘blogging’ was and she told me it was typing on the computer. Since my daughter is still quite young, I told her she was right, but I asked her if she knew that what I typed here can be seen by anyone in the world? She didn’t know that. I showed her a comment on an old post of mine and I can’t tell you how impressed she was that her grandparents can see what her mom types.
For now, I’m leaving it at that. You see, I have the luxury of a few more years and many more discussions before she begins creating her space online. More discussions will come and they will get more specific and more complicated. For now though, she just understands that you need to be aware that everyone and anyone is possibly watching you.
I am in such an amazing position today. I have the knowledge of past mistakes that I have witnessed around me and made myself to help me to teach my daughters how to create a more positive experience online. I can now lead by example and give them the tools they need to manage and move on from negative remarks and people better than I ever could.
Moms, dads, women, men, online enthusiasts everywhere, how do you teach your children about their future online?