Teaching your kids about being good digital citizens

Whether studying for the Common Core standardized test or scrolling through social media, your kids are digital citizens. They turn to the Internet for homework help and interaction with their peers and often spend many hours a day online. As a parent, it's your job to teach your kids how to act online. Doing so will help keep them safe and also promote a positive environment on the Web. Here are some important tips to teach your children about digital citizenship:

Don't plagiarize
When using the Internet for school or creative purposes, kids must understand what plagiarism is. Presenting other people's work as their own on homework projects or even in fun, creative pursuits is illegal and may lead to failing an assignment. Digital content such as podcasts, writing, photos and graphics should always be attributed to the original creator. It can be tricky to ascertain who is the original source of a post, so make sure your kids know to only use information and content when they can properly attribute it to the creator.

Be careful with personal information
Your children must understand never to give away personal information without your permission. They should never give out their names, addresses, phone numbers, social security information or passwords to online accounts. Unfortunately, there are people on the Internet who have bad intentions and can use these types of personal info to steal identities, rack up debt and cause harm to unsuspecting kids. In the event a website asks your children for any of the information above, ensure they ask you first. You can be the judge of whether a site is legitimate or not and pick just how much info to share.

Consider your actions
Today's kids turn to chat rooms, messaging services and social media to talk to one another around the clock. While this can be fun and form meaningful friendships, what your kids say online doesn't always come off the way they want it understood. Make sure your children really think about what they type before hitting the "send" button, especially if they are angry. Because the message recipient can't see your children's faces or actions, he or she may not fully understand the message in the way it's meant to come across. Even a simple phrase, like "It's fine," can lead to misunderstandings. Also, encourage your kids to step away from the computer if they are mad. Talking through a screen can make it easier to say mean things.

Spend time offline
The allure of social media is great and can make kids want to spend much of their waking hours on the Internet. While there are many benefits to having access to the Web, it has its drawbacks too. Talk with your kids about the importance of not spending all their time on the computer or other devices. Going outside, being physically active and following creative pursuits are all important for leading a balanced life full of growth and learning. 

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