This article is part of a series by the J.B. Watkins PTA Digital Safety Committee.
By Melody Bergman
February is a time for paper hearts, cuddly bears and candy. But it can also be a great time to talk to kids about being kind to each other–not only in real life, but also online.
Here are three tips for online kindness:
Thinking beyond the screen. For some reason, kids (and also adults) can develop a tendency to act differently online than they do in real life. It’s almost as if putting a screen between us and the online world creates some sort of imaginary shield. That mentality is an illusion. We need to teach our children to remember that there is always a real person on the other side of the screen.
More than words. The old adage, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” couldn’t be more untrue. However, when we’re online, we can almost convince ourselves it’s true. Because after all … they are only words on a screen, right? We need to teach our kids that words do matter. We need to teach children to use kind words–ones that will build people up, rather than tear them down.
#UseTech4Good. There is so much more to do online than just social media, gaming, surfing, and shopping. We can also use tech for education, to create social change, and to seek out service opportunities. Many organizations are using the hashtag #UseTech4Good to highlight these opportunities and to help kids and families find them. We need to teach our children to use tech and media to make the world a better place.
Back in the old days, we taught people to be good citizens in an attempt to create a better world. We were instructed to pick up litter, to be kind to animals, to help out a friend, to tell the truth. Nowadays, we need to do the same kind of teaching with technology. We need to teach our kids to be good Digital Citizens–not just online, but on their phones, tablets, and everywhere else they interact with media.
Melody Harrison Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, founder of Media Savvy Mamas, and head of the PTA Digital Safety Committee at J.B. Watkins Elementary.