When I was in high school (back in the early 2000s), I was an active baseball player. There was a message board (which has since morphed into this website that I took part in to discuss local teams, players, etc. The discussion got heated at times. The posters were mostly anonymous, but I decided to use my real name. I was honest and called it like I saw it. The problem is that I was a 16 year old posting under my real name. Some of the things I said were controversial. Did I get into trouble? Not terribly bad, but I was only 1 wrong post away from it, though. I say all that to say that digital citizenship wasn't discussed much back in 2000. If we needed it back then, think about how much more we need it today.
If I could sum up a teenager's life in 2015 in one word, it would be connected. They are always connected. There is really countless ways they can talk with people. This includes social networks (the popular ones for kids change monthly), Skype, and iMessage. There is ample opportunity to send and see things that are not appropriate. How do we monitor it? Obviously, curbi is part of your solution. It will allow you to understand where your kids are spending their time online. Technology is only half the solution, though. The other is actually having honest conversations with your kids about digital citizenship. What are some of the things that you should be discussing?
- What are the ramifications of sending something I shouldn't at home and at school?
- Should I expect any form of privacy when using social networking sites? (hint: no)
- What topics are not appropriate to discuss with friends?
- Password security (don't give it out)
- Camera etiquette
- Safe searching
This is just a short list, but it's important to start somewhere. The internet is here to stay, and it will be a large part of our children's lives. It's important that we help them understand that what they do online is no different than what they do offline.