By: Lynette Owens
Parents are tasked with helping their children navigate living in the Digital Age. With over 37 million kids having access to the Internet in the U.S, kids are growing up with far more knowledge than their parents and caregivers. I advise parents to take a hands-on approach when helping our kids learn to be responsible while using the Internet.
From online homework centers to social media apps, the online opportunities presented to our children are endless and the knowledge to utilize said platforms safely is extremely important. Before setting boundaries and rules for your kids’ Internet use, try all of the apps and websites they’re using to get a better feel for how they’re spending their time online. You will be amazed to learn where boundaries should be set; for example, if your child spends countless hours scanning social media, it might be a good idea to set some time limits. It’s important that time spent online doesn’t interfere with being outside, homework, friendships and sleep.
In addition to taking the time to learn about how your kids use the Internet, be sure to create an open and continuous conversation discussing day-to-day Internet usage. It’s important to act as a supportive sounding board so that children feel comfortable seeking advice or asking questions. Thinking you do not have all the knowledge to answer? Rest assured, there are plenty of great resources and information available to help. In addition to helping, make sure to set a good example. Whether it’s turning your phone off during family time or being positive towards others online, try your best to mirror the online personality you want to see your children embody.
In an effort to get kids involved and thinking about how to use the Internet in a positive way, Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program is asking kids to participate in the “What’s Your Story” contest by creating a short video that answers the question, “What Does the Internet Mean to You?” Through this contest, we hope to better understand what the Internet means to our youth. For a chance to win $10k, kids can help us understand what it is truly like living in this Digital Age and in turn, we can better support them.
Lynette Owens is the founder and global director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families (ISKF) program. A mom of two school-aged children, Lynette established the ISKF program in 2008 to help extend the company’s vision of making a world safe for the exchange of digital information to the world’s youngest citizens. The program, active in 19 countries, helps kids, families, and schools become safe, responsible, and successful users of technology. Follow Lynette on Twitter or read her blog: Internetsafety.trendmicro.com