June 18, 2018 – AWE Learning Staff
The internet is a wonderful resource, and plays a growing role in our everyday routines, for both adults and children. When you recently needed information on a topic, how did you conduct your exploration? Like adults, students often access the internet to conduct research, complete homework assignments, engage in social media, and more. While the internet provides an infinite amount of information, browsing the internet simultaneously comes with risks, such as accessing inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and online predators. It is important that all users, specifically early learners, are aware of cybersafety, so they can take advantage of what the internet offers in a safe manner.
Children and teens spend a lot of time interacting on social media, including but not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It is important for parents and teachers to instruct children to socialize online safely. Be proactive, rather than reactive. Teach early learners how to act, rather than requiring them to learn from their own mistakes. Remind children of the following:
- Online actions have consequences.
- Limit what they share (for example, address, phone numbers, social security numbers, etc. should remain as private information and not shared publicly).
- Encourage online manners.
Communication is key. Have a conversation with young learners discussing what types of websites they can visit. Growing up with technology around them, children are becoming more tech savvy than adults. In order to guide young learners safely on the internet, adults must learn about the trending social media platforms. While you might not be interested in interacting on social media platforms for your own purposes, create an account so you can follow what your young learners are posting. Monitor what comments and pictures are posted, who they’re ‘friends’ with, and who they’re talking to. Be cautious of mobile phone settings; is their location being shared when they post a picture? If so, be sure to disable this setting. Keep an open dialogue with your young learners; studies show that going behind their back will only cause resentment and leave them feeling more exposed.
In addition to engaging on social media platforms, children use the internet for a variety of tasks, such as to do research or play games. With the infinite amount of information available to us, it is important to teach children how to safely browse the internet. For early learners, require that they ask permission of an adult prior to opening a new website. If children have an e-mail account, instruct them the importance of and how to screen e-mails. Remind them to never open e-mails from unknown sources.
The internet is a remarkable resource with a plethora of information and activities; it is only becoming more and more pertinent to our everyday routines and lifestyles. Therefore, it is of growing importance that we supervise our early learner’s use of the internet, and teach them the best practices before it is too late.