Digital kids for better tomorrow- The New Indian Express

Express Message Service

Digital security is not child’s play. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of US teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 say they have access to a smartphone. Another study of children’s interactions with screens found that one in five parents say their children aged 12 and younger own a digital device. That’s why cyber activists are screaming hoarsely about the need to turn these little digital natives into good digital citizens.

Digital citizenship decryption
Digital citizenship is about the responsible use of technology by everyone who uses an electronic device. Just like kids need hygiene in IRL, they need online hygiene to be better digital citizens. From etiquette to privacy, good digital citizenship teaches them the fundamentals of digital values, such as:
● Switch off digitally and spend time with loved ones
● Apply real behavior in the digital world as well
● Checking the credibility and authenticity of online information sources
● Avoiding suspicious emails, websites and ads that could lead to data theft
● Review privacy settings and understand what to share with whom

The checklist
In a digital world, teaching kids to be safe online helps instead of banning internet use. According to Safe Sitter, a US-based nonprofit that teaches kids safety skills when they’re home alone, being a good citizen is about:
● Practice security routines to protect yourself (careful use of location tags, use of privacy settings to shield unwanted attention)
● Treating others with respect (disagreeing without being offensive), etc.

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digital dignity
While the anonymity offered by the Internet can help one express their thoughts freely, it also leads them to bully others, steal data, or post misleading information. A respectful digital citizen is someone who:
● Follows the rules of a website
● Is aware that not everyone has equal access to the Internet
● Protects private information for yourself and others
● Respects self and others
● Take a stand against cyberbullying

How do you teach children? Giving them roleplay scenarios is a good start. Ask Your Child: Someone you don’t know just asked online to be your friend. He looks your age and is from a different school. Do you accept the request? Then explain the resulting scenarios based on their answers. Gamification is another way to guide them to safer online spaces.

Interland, part of Google’s Be Internet Awesome initiative, is an adventurous game in which kids help their fellow internetworkers fight badly behaved hackers, phishers, and bullies by practicing the skills they need to become good digital citizens be.

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