Sunday, January 6, 2013

10 Tips for the New Year

If your child is like most, he or she is probably starting out the new year as the proud owner of a new digital device. A gift from you perhaps? If so, don’t let the gift-giving end there. Give the best gift of all: 10 TIPS to help them use their new phone, tablet, PC, laptop, or other digital tool wisely and safely:

1. Set Limits. Talk to your child about how to set appropriate limits for time spent with their digital devices. A good rule of thumb is to keep bedrooms device free at night (after homework) and to ban digital tools from the dinner table.

2. Manage Privacy Settings. If you haven’t already set the privacy settings on your own social networking sites, like Facebook, this is something you and your child can do together.  Decide who can see what they post online and how people can connect with them. Chances are you’ll both learn something in the process.

3. Read Privacy Policies. Yes, these can be long, dull and boring; but Privacy Policies are important to read, so try this: It reads privacy policies and user agreement for you and quickly scans them to flag words, statements, and phrases worth your attention.

4. Turn on the “Do Not Track Tool.”  Most Internet browsers have a "Do Not Track" tool to tell sites you don't want cookies installed on your device. In case you didn’t already know this, "cookies" are what websites drop on your computer to track your activities.  You can manage these by tweaking your preferences.

5. Have the Talk (about passwords). According to a Pew Internet Study, 1 in 3 teens have shared a password with a friend. Encourage your child to keep their passwords private and teach them how to make a strong passwords by following simple rules, like combining upper and lower case letters with numbers and symbols (and never include personal info!).  

6. Keep Personal Info Personal and Don’t Chat With or Send Photos to Strangers. The good news is that kids already know this. Research shows that adults actually share personal information more freely online than kids do. So here’s where we can work a little harder to be better online role models.

7. Ask Permission. Requiring your child ask permission before signing up for anything online is a good policy and it goes hand in hand with tip #8.

8. Be Vigilant. Teach your child how to recognize tricks and mechanisms the online world uses to try and access our personal data (like links on emails we don’t recognize). 

9. Respect Age Limits on SNS’s. Data shows that close to half of online teens admit to lying about their age in order to access a website. Just like we teach our kids to be ethical, law-abiding citizens of the offline world, show them how to extend these same behaviors into the online world. And remember that it’s smart to let kids develop the maturity needed to deal with the many ethical decisions that loom in cyberspace.

10. Finally, Give the Gift of Gab. Talk to your child. Chances are you’ll learn something from them about how to use your own devices more safely and wisely!

 Lastly, hopefully your child is lucky enough to learn some or all of these lessons in school. If not, why not advocate for digital literacy, cyber civics, and/or digital citizenship classes in your own school? It's a gift we could be giving to all our kids.

Cross-Posted on iKeepSafe Blog

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