We all know that the way our children communicate now and will communicate in the future differs greatly from how most of us communicated growing up. Many children today have never picked up a traditional, land line telephone and said, “Hello?”. They learn about what is happening in the world around them from the internet instead of a newspaper or magazine.
Along these lines, it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children the proper use of technology and monitor their child’s online activity. The excuse of, “I don’t understand all of this technology” is irresponsible and careless. Protecting your child’s online reputation should be just as important as washing their clothes and making sure they eat their vegetables. Here are a few tips to help:
1. Register the domain of your child’s name and renew it every year.
2. Set up a Google alert for your child’s name as well as any common misspellings of the name.
3. Google your child’s name on a regular basis and monitor what comes up in the search engines.
4. Teach your child how to use their technology tools and take the role of a leader. Sit down at their computer every couple of weeks and clean it up, keep it updated, etc. Same thing with their cell phone.
5. Teach your child how to avoid getting a virus on their computer.
6. Require access to all of your child’s online accounts. Explain to them that having online access is a privilege and you trust them to make good decisions; however, it is also your responsibility as a parent to fix something if they (or one of their friends) make a mistake.
7. Show your child examples of the proper and improper use of social networking sites. Explain to them how what they post is permanent and could hurt themselves (or others) if they aren’t careful.
8. Don’t prevent them from using technology. Today’s children will need to be proficient in technology and communication in order to succeed in school and their chosen career. Because of how fast technology grows, many careers that will be available in 10 years don’t even exist today.
9. Have your child use a screen name other than their own when online. Help them choose an online id that is generic, unassuming and unspecific. Avoid using their name, location and anything that could be used to identify them or their age. For example:
No: ashleybaker123, dallasgirlashley, ashlovesjustinbeiber
Yes: summer321, riverdesert, greengrass3
10. On sites that require a “real” name, (such as Facebook), consider using a modified version of your child’s name (such as an abbreviated name or a middle name).
11. Do not use your child’s name online either. Use a nickname instead when mentioning something about them or posting a picture.