Raising Digital Citizens

The last generation without Internet access at their fingertips has already passed. Children are now growing up in a digital world, and the Internet contains a wealth of information. Kids are no longer limited by what they are taught in school or find at the library. Sites like YouTube can be invaluable resources for learning new skills, or as an educational platform in a more accessible way.

However, along with these resources come some bad side effects. Unfortunately, children are often targeted on the Internet. For example, recently the database for sanriotown.com was hacked. The “Hello Kitty” hack exposed 3.3 million user accounts, many of which were children. Having their identities compromised could have lifelong ramifications.

It is important that parents are informed about Internet security, so they can pass the knowledge on to their children. Staying safe involves not only making sure your kids are accessing age-appropriate content, but teaching them to be good digital citizens. If they understand the “why’s” of staying safe online, they are more likely to follow the rules. Staysafeonline.org provides extensive information on raising a digital citizen.

What can parents do?:
  • Support good choices. As children gain more autonomy online, remember to encourage positive actions and competency in Internet safety.
  • Review privacy settings. Review social media privacy settings together, decide on the best settings, and discuss why these settings are appropriate.
  • Teach practical security tips. Though making strong passwords and double-checking all emails may seem cumbersome to us, children who grow up with these habits won’t think twice!
  • Understand that phones are a connection, too. Though we often think of our desktop computer as the main Internet connection, it is not the only access. Kids can spend as much (or more) time connected to the Internet on their phones. It is important to teach children that "apps" come with the same risks as browsing the Internet... and the same online security rules apply.
  • Explain that the Internet saves everything. Once data is in cyberspace, it is essentially impossible to erase data. Even with high privacy settings on social media, a friend could always take a screen-shot and put it anywhere. Help children understand that they should never post anything they wouldn’t want everyone to see.
  • Help them to be good digital citizens. It is important that children understand that the consequences are just as bad. Additionally, kids shouldn’t share information about others online that they wouldn’t want online themselves.
  • Talk to other parents. Children share information and may teach their friends important safety tips – or they may learn bad habits. By talking to other parents, you may learn more about Internet safety and/or have the opportunity to teach a parent more about staying safe online.

Have questions? We're here to help!

If you have questions about cybersecurity, or if you want to learn more about how to stay safe online, contact the Information Security Office (ISO) at: ciso@miami.edu