Think of the news over the past few months... Intelligent and successful adults are fired from their jobs and face public censure because they shared too much online. A college student sends out an inflammatory and irresponsible email that goes viral. High School Students forward photos and videos that are, to say the least, inappropriate and expose them to legal consequences. Cyber-bullying has become alarmingly common among adolescents.
Elementary School is the time to talk to your children about these issues. And, you need to keep talking to them. Look for teachable moments when you can give them examples of what not to share. Talk to them about the permanence of information that they publish in any format. Take ownership of your child’s social networking and make sure that they know that you are watching what they say. Be sure to comment if you see their friends make inappropriate statements. Help them understand why certain things are inappropriate to say and talk about consequences for publishing these statements.
Here are some guidelines that we discuss at school that might help you start a conversation with your child. And be sure to have a look at the internet safety links under “parent links” on the MBES website.
1. I will not give out personal information
2. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me uncomfortable.
3. I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online
4. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
5. I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do, I will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the online service.
6. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online.
7. I will be polite online and expect others to be polite to me.