Chatting with Kids about being online
June 07, 2010
Not sure where to begin? Consider the following:
Start Early: After all, even toddlers see their parents use all kinds of devices. As soon as your child is using a computer, a cell phone or any mobile device, it's time to talk to them about online behavior, safety, and security. As a parent, you have the opportunity to talk to your children about what's important before anyone else does.
Create an honest, open environment: Kids look to their parents to help guide them. Be supportive and positive. Listening and taking their feelings into account helps keep conversation afloat. You may not have all the answers, and being honest about that can go a long way.
The best way to protect your kids online? Talk to them. Research suggest that when children want important information, most rely on their parents.
Initiate conversation: Even if your kids are comfortable approaching you, don't wait for them to start the conversation. Use everyday opportunities to talk to your kids about being online. For instance, a TV program featuring a teen online or using a cell phone can tee up a discussion about what to do -or not - in similar circumstances. News stories about internet scams or cyberbullying, for example, also can help start a conversation with kids about their experiences and your expectations.
Communicate your values: Be upfront about your values and how they apply in an online context. Communicating your values clearly can help your kids make smarter and more thoughtful decisions when they face tricky situations.
Be patient: Resist the urge to rush through conversations with your kids. Most kids need to hear information repeated, in small doses, for it to sink in. If you keep talking with your kids, your patience and persistence will pay off in the long run. Work hard to keep the lines of communication open, even if you learn your kid has done something online you find inappropriate.