There is a lot of negative reporting about how young people use the internet, and whether they know enough about online risks. On parentinfo.org we found an interesting article, which we translated for you (with permission of course).
It is of course very important to make your child resilient, but the negative sides of the internet do not have to overshadow its possibilities. It is useful to also discuss the positive sides; how children can use the internet to their advantage. Here are our tips for talking to your child about making the most of the time you spend online.
1. Build friendships
Digital communication is an integral part of the lives of many children and young people. Playing games, social media and video calling are powerful tools for building and maintaining friendships. They can be especially helpful for kids who have trouble with real-life social interactions. If that’s the case for your child, you can encourage digital friendships (with your support and guidance, of course).
2. Keep in touch
The lockdown has reminded all of us how important it is to feel connected to friends and family – and technology gives us the tools to do that. Your child may have interacted with family members or friends through video calling or online games over the past few months – and there’s really no reason to stop now. They are useful ways to have contact with each other, if you can’t meet in person.
3. Making the difference
At school, your child learns about all kinds of social issues – from climate change to discrimination. But there are always topics they want to know more about. Talk to your child about the things that are important to them, encourage them to do their own research online. For example, they can look for volunteer work or contribute to a social cause in other ways. And maybe you’ll find a way to help your local community.
4. Exploring the world (virtual)
Your child can learn all kinds of things about art, science and other cultures online, without leaving home. Many famous museums and art galleries offer free ‘virtual tours’, explaining paintings and sculptures that your child would not otherwise see. There are also 360-degree images of world heritage sites online, such as the Machu Picchu in Peru, or the famous statue of Christ in Brazil.
5. Choosing a Career
It can be helpful to read what people say about their career choices in blogs and forums. You can also discover jobs that you didn’t even know existed. Whether you already know what you want to be when you grow up, or you have no idea yet: extensive online research never hurts. Even if you stick with your choice, it’s still useful to have digital skills, and to know how to use the internet for research. If you later apply for a job, that will also be online, just like registering for a study. You can let your kids help with one of your own administrative tasks so they can gain experience.
6. Follow the news
Young people get the news very often through websites and social media. Help your child find out which online resources are reliable and encourage them to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world. They may already know to watch out for fake news and rumors – because they spread so quickly online – but they may not know exactly what the difference is between reliable and unreliable news. Talk to them about how to view the news critically.
7. Learning new skills
Your child probably already uses the internet for homework and school projects. But there are also many opportunities to learn new things online. There are short videos with tutorials (sort of a short course) that teach you everything from the latest soccer tricks to how to make your own vlog. Many people use these tutorials when trying something new – the list of the most frequently used searches includes: how to make sourdough bread or banana bread.
The Internet can be a great place for your creative expressions. There are so many opportunities to share your talents and skills with others. Maybe your child wants to set up his own blog or vlog about his favorite books, films, gadgets, sports or about his opinion on a social topic. Novice photographers can put their best photos online and share (and even sell).
9. Buy or Sell
The internet has given a huge boost to buying and selling used stuff – and many have even made it their business. Environmentally conscious youth will rather sell items they no longer use than throw them away, and will buy used books rather than new ones. You may not like letting them do this unsupervised, but you can do it together – take the photos and descriptions, or search for second-hand items online together.
You can find many ways to relax online. Your child may enjoy watching a movie, listening to music, doing meditation, watching funny movies, or following their friends and favorite people on social media. It’s nice to talk about your interests and leisure activities together. Some of these might be fun to do together as a family at the end of a busy day.