We’ve all heard the saying: “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” That’s an important lesson that parents need to teach their children as digital technology continues to play an integral part in their lives. Society is going through what is called the “Infodemic,” where deliberate, publicly published fabrications or misinformation are being put into the public sphere. It is tricky for adults to identify what is real and what is fake online, and it’s even more challenging for children. Here are three ways parents can better understand digital literacy, so they can teach their children about being digital citizens.
A digital citizen is someone who has developed the skills and knowledge to use the internet and digital technology effectively. Digital citizens have responsibilities now that social media platforms give people a space to share information that is relevant to them.
What Can Parents Teach Their Children About Being a Digital Citizen:
Learn where information comes from – It’s essential to understand where information comes from when reading articles or internet social media posts. Are you easily able to identify where the information comes from? Is it a trusted source of information? It’s important to remember that there are media outlets on the internet deliberately putting out content meant to be malicious, even from trusted news media sites. A simple way to verify whether something you’re looking at is real is to see if it has been published elsewhere. Or put it through a fact-checking site that you can find on most search engines.
Keep an open mindset – The internet has become a public sphere where everyone has a platform to express their thoughts and opinions and share information. Gone are the days when people would gather in public spaces to talk about their ideas, all that has moved digitally. It is easier now to learn from more vantage points and various opinions that might not follow our own. We have learned in recent years how politically divided we are as a nation, and that division can be seen throughout the internet. Instead of viewing the internet as a place to shy away from because of opinions different from your own, use it to show your children that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and each should be respected.
Be respectful and responsible – There is no doubt that the internet is full of people with negative intentions. Cyberbullying is one that children can relate to. Here, a parent should lead by example, not just online but in everyday life. It has become easier through the different social media platforms to spread hurtful content and do it anonymously. Part of being a responsible digital citizen means showing respect to each other, especially concerning children who can be easily influenced by what they see on the internet. Treating everyone with respect is a good lesson for learning to be a digital citizen and a good person.