Just a few days ago, I read a story about some children who had taken pictures of their friends and posted them on an online classifieds website, under the category “Dogs”. This incident illustrated to me the fact that children don’t always understand good digital citizenship. Younger generations haven’t grown up getting schooled in netiquette. The power of technology and the relative anonymity of the Internet has made callous behavior and the bullying of peers, not just possible, but easy. It is becoming increasingly common to see comments and photos posted online with the sole intent to intimidate or embarrass - with little or no consideration given to the consequences those actions might have on others, and on themselves, later in life.
As a parent, I fear social media can be a dangerous tool in the hands of the “uninitiated”, so to speak. So, what do we do?
Just like when your child is crossing the road for the first time – you don’t let them do it by themselves and watch from afar. You hold their hand, you look both ways, you watch your step. Likewise, children need a guiding hand as they are exposed to new technology and specifically to social media/networks.
Everything we post online contributes towards our digital footprint.
The same applies to our children. Children today are armed with digital devices, discovering and downloading apps before they’ve even stepped foot in their first classroom. Even as adults - as fully fledged digital citizens - we sometimes say what we think and write what we do, without proper consideration. So how much harder must it be for our children, who lack the maturity and experience to recognize what is safe to say online? Does anyone stop to consider the ramifications of their digital footprint?
So, what is your digital footprint?
Tech advocates frequently discuss the future impact of our digital behavior. We know it is important, so why do we do so little about it? One of the things I love about social media is the ability to share videos and photos with my friends and seeing their response. However, many of us often forget that what we share with friends may also be viewed by people we don’t know. What we post online, could remain online forever.
With four children under the age of 10 and countless hours researching digital parenting, I’ve established five ground rules for my children:
As a parent in tech, I want to pass my love of technology onto them and do it in the right way. In our home, the dinner table is a no-phone zone and I try to reinforce the importance of being active offline as well as online.
GeckoLife originated due to the need to safeguard our own and our children’s digital footprints. We want to give parents the ability to control and monitor their children’s connections and content. Once parents feel their child is ready, they can allow them freer reign. GeckoLife is the hand that guides initially, but prepares children to cross the Internet road safely in the future.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.