Educating Our Kids to be Responsible Digital Citizens
January 31, 2014 1 Comment
Sometimes it seems hard to remember a world without digital anything. It has changed business models, communication paradigms and how we need to think about what it means to be a digital and global citizen. Technology has shifted the way we shop, pay bills, save money, consume media, get cash, travel, advertise, manage workflows, store information and even how we want to be remembered.
According to the Ad Age Mobile Fact Pack 2013, the average adult in the United States spends an average of 141 minutes per day using mobile devices. Despite that, the good news is that the changes are teaching us how to stay connected to our families. According to Pew Internet, since 1965, fathers have tripled the amount of time spent with their kids. Even mothers spend more time now with their children than they did in 1960. Despite loads of information at our fingertips, we still don’t have all of the answers, and perhaps there is some redemption in that.
In presentations when I speak to people about what it means to remain relevant in a digital world that continues to expand, there are still so many people who feel overwhelmed. There are arguments on all sides about topics like transparency, being politically correct, when to take calls, check email and how to behave in public when talking on mobile devices, etc.
Every time we engage in this conversation something resonates with people and I am often approached after speaking. Sometimes it is by someone who is excited to try something new they learned. Other times a parent or caregiver who hadn’t considered the reason they ought to pay closer attention to social media and technology is because they need to be able to engage their kids in productive conversations about it. Some parents feel that they have lost control and aren’t sure where to turn.
To them I say, there is hope and possibilities. Start early and model the behavior. Here is a great opportunity to learn together. Show them what you are doing online and why. Furthermore, ask them about what they are doing. Use examples in the media about things like cautions of revealing a location and how people consume information differently in person than in writing. In our family, we started the dialogue at 5 years old about what it means to have a digital footprint and what it can teach us about global and digital citizenship. Teaching kids to manage their own digital footprint has to start at home with the right conversations.