August 2, 2016
By Lynette Owens
The complete article appears in the August issue of Parenting OC.
Today, there are over 37 million kids ages 3-17 that have access to the internet in the U.S. This reality has been ushered in as internet-connected devices become more plentiful and affordable. While kids have easier access to the internet at home, they increasingly need to access it for school. It is therefore paramount that parents, teachers and communities work together to teach kids how to be good digital citizens so that they use the internet in safe, positive and productive ways. However, with the arrival of new devices, apps and the range of their uses – risks and rewards inherent in all – teaching digital citizenship can seem like a daunting task. One way to approach this is to consider the different stages of a child’s life with the internet, from pre-school through high school. Here are some guidelines parents and guardians can consider to support kids to become good digital citizens.
Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten
At this stage, it is important to carefully manage children’s exposure to technology. It can be easy for parents and guardians to use digital devices as an “always there” babysitter. Children at this age are quickly absorbing the world around them; it’s essential that they develop social skills and learn to be involved with the real world around them. Too much screen time can quickly turn into a bad habit, difficult to break as they age. Balancing their online time from the start is critical. Parents should also ensure that when kids are online they are exposed to content that is age-appropriate. There are many apps, sites and content available for this age range, and multiple ways to find them through search engines, app stores and parent and education websites. Some good resources to consider are Common Sense Media and SmartApps for Kids.
As kids enter grade school, they will have opportunities to start exploring apps, sites and devices so it’s essential that parents embrace this. They will start to use technology more independently for school and social reasons, so it’s important for parents to establish clear guidelines of how much time kids spend online for fun versus working on homework. One way is to have kids…
Read the full post in Parenting OC here (beginning on page 20).
Lynette Owens is the Founder and Global Director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 20+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support digital literacy and citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association of Media Literacy Education and SPARK Kindness, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.
Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens