Raising Wise Digital Kids

“Well, as you know, I’m not on SnapFace and all that …”

—Bill Belichick, New England Patriots Head Coach commenting on social media.

It’s hard to keep up with social media in today’s cyber world, as the above quote illustrates.

We begin teaching our children behavioral expectations at a very young age, teaching them to say “please”, “thank you”, and look people in the eye.  Raising wise digital citizens requires you provide the same sort of instruction, guidance, oversight, and support (in age-appropriate ways) as they learn how to interact appropriately in digital settings.  This is important because there are considerations related to safety, digital footprints, and etiquette where missteps by young users can be difficult to deal with after the fact.

Here are some useful suggestions for children no matter their age:

  1. Think before you type – it can seem easy to post things that may be hurtful to others or simply too blunt when you are looking at a screen and not a person. Some websites suggest a “WWGS” (What Would Grandma Say?) rule to illustrate this to tweens.  If you wouldn’t say it in front of your grandma, don’t type it to another person.
  1. Don’t talk to strangers – Children need to be taught that everyone online is a stranger. Profiles are not always lined up with who that person is in reality, which may be a surprise to tweens.  Messaging during online gaming, chat rooms and social media apps can create a feeling of shared experiences leading a child to “speak” with strangers in a way they would never do in real life.  It should be emphasized that it is never okay to share information about their address, family, school, friends, etc. with someone online.
  1. Privacy is not guaranteed – Children need to understand that nothing online is ever as private as it may seem, and posts and photos can live on forever. Even on apps which tout that their messages or photos are only available for a short time, a screenshot of the live post can easily defeat that expectation.

On Tuesday, February 28, Iris Beckwith, President of connectED4safety LLC, will be at Green Hedges. All parents are invited to her presentation at 8:30 a.m. designed to help you find concrete options for understanding, managing and talking to your children about their online lives, as well as helpful hints and guidelines useful for monitoring your tween/teens digital activities. Presentations to students in Grades 4-8 will follow.

Keeping up with what is new and trendy while setting appropriate limits and instilling good behavior and habits can seem like a daunting job, but resources like Iris Beckwith’s presentation can help. More information on this topic can also be found at:

13 Tips for Monitoring Kids’ Social Media

How to Raise Respectful Digital Citizens

5 Social Media Rules for Teens and Tweens