Yesterday was Safer Internet Day - I could have put the message in one sentence ...

I am by no means belittling the idea of having a safer internet day - yet every message I saw, every site that gave advice and the few reports I caught on television and radio could be boiled down to.
Create and maintain an open and sensible dialogue with your children regarding their use of the Internet.
My children are now adults - they are also from the first generation to grow up with the internet in its full glory. Very minor mistakes were made - this will also be the case for you (and maybe your children).

It is better to be their friend on social media than not at all - it is better to guide them and laugh with them at some very silly and random things. Help them know the difference between banter, wit and stepping over the line. Referee the occasional debate and allow them to disagree with you.

But do agree on when you call the shots and draw the line often for their own protection - my view is that are children are normally quite reasonable individuals. Sadly there are others who are not. Encourage them to tell you when they are not happy, unsure or insecure. Let them guide you on who is sane or a little feisty in their forums.

Then help them develop an impartial nature - rather than take offence at someones post (unless it is definitely beyond reasonable). Learn what the person posting is thinking - as often their opinions are often naive and misinformed.

Help them google what they do not know and check with Snopes that which they do not understand and debunk all the way. The challenge is that you should have this open and sensible dialogue with your children and help them to become their own critical thinkers and managers of an emergent online presence.



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