Kids today seem to be born knowing how to use technology, but they don't automatically understand responsible online behaviour.
It's a new challenge parents face – teaching children how to be good digital citizens; how to use technology safely and responsibly, and how to evaluate, manage and use the information and tools they find online.
Here are eight areas of digital citizenship that parents may consider and discuss with their children.
- Digital etiquette
The most common example is using lower case letters in text messages and emails - unless you really want to SHOUT AT SOMEONE.
- Digital communication
There are lots of ways to communicate - but are they equally appropriate every time? For example, texting may be a convenient way for a child to invite a friend over but their parents may prefer to be phoned and asked in person so they can verify that it's ok.
- Digital literacy
The internet is an amazing research tool if you know how to assess the credibility of a site and its content - whether it's checking consumer reviews about a new fridge or research for an assignment, parents and kids need to learn and use these skills.
- Digital commerce
If a child is old enough to buy things online, do they know how to check that a seller is legitimate and that the transaction is secure? How do they protect themselves against identify theft?
- Digital law
Cutting and pasting information from a website into an assignment isn't just lazy - it's also plagiarism. Downloading music or videos illegally is also something children need to be warned against.
- Digital rights and responsibilities
The new-found freedom of being able to publish our thoughts online needs to be balanced with awareness that our words and photos can be hurtful to others and can exist online for many years. When something that appears online makes a child feel uncomfortable, they need to know how to deal with it.
- Digital health and wellness
'Blackberry thumb', eye strain, hearing loss, back and neck problems weren't generally problems for earlier generations of kids, but are things we now need to protect children against. We also need to be aware of psychological issues such as internet addiction and cyber bullying.
- Digital security (self-protection)
How much information to give online, whether to post and tag photos, where to have a webcam, even where to keep the computer are some of the discussions families need to have about security.
The above categories are based on themes assembled by US educator Mike Ribble who has written widely on digital citizenship.