We all want to raise children who have resilience. The question of how to raise children with digital resilience is a real question in today’s world. All our children are digital natives and we need to raise them with this awareness in mind. The more we prepare them, the better equipped they are when (not if) they come across inappropriate content online.
Resilience is the ability to overcome difficult experiences (this also includes the online world) and be shaped positively by them.
What is Digital Resilience
Digital resilience involves having the ability to understand when you are at risk online, and knowing what to do if anything goes wrong. It is learning from your experiences of being online, and being able to recover from any episodes that are not ideal. This could include a host of things, inappropriate content, cyberbullying, trolls and more.
Children who are digitally resilient will be equipped to handle the challenges of the modern, digital world.
Some parents default is to keep their children off the internet for as long as possible. However, in reality, this is not sustainable and your children will eventually get exposed to the digital world. Our children will not learn digital resilience if they are kept off, they can only learn if they learn the appropriate use and guided properly.
Tools and filters can ‘protect’ a child from nasty things they may find on the internet. This may be useful for very young children. However, when it comes to raising a digitally resilient child, it is vital that parents ensure children are allowed to explore the online world.
The Role That Parents Play
Research conducted by Parent Zone with the Oxford Internet Institute found parental involvement has a positive effect. They found that children who were given freedom to use the internet on their own, backed up by supportive parenting, were less likely to come to harm online. In addition, they were more likely to enjoy constructive online experiences. This could include learning a new skill. However, children whose internet use was strictly filtered and monitored were not as prepared to make the right decisions online.
It is important to teach your child to think critically about what they read, see or hear online. For young children, you can encourage them to ask you about it, or to think what would their parents think about this? As they get older they need to be able to assess for themselves whether they are in a risky online place and whether the information they are receiving is reliable and helpful to them.
Learning About Online Behaviour
People empathise less with each other when their communications are digital. This is why trolls find it so easy to post horrible messages online. Helping your child to understand that and to pause and think about the impact of things that are posted online, will help them cope with some of the difficult behaviours they will come across. As they build up their digital resilience they can better avoid getting caught up inappropriate behaviour online. [Read: How to Navigate Social Media with your Child]
Do Not Hate Everything Online
Parents cannot afford to be constantly suspicious about online usage. The truth is that there is a positive side to your child’s use of the internet. Rather than condemn everything, it is better that you understand what Apps they are using and why they like it. If you constantly criticise the apps and games they love, they’re not going to want to talk to you about their online life.
Children who can recover from an online mistake can learn and avoid making the same mistake again. You can help by making it easy for them to talk to you about their mishaps. What this means as a parent is keeping calm even if you really want to scream. Children need to know where they can go for help if they need it. They need the support of adults and caregivers in their life to help them as they navigate the online world.
Allow your child to explore and take charge of their online life.
Having some control over any given situation is an important part of resilience. What parents can do is to spend time early on to teach your child how to be a responsible digital native. Parents cannot possibly always be there when your child is online. Rather it is essential to help them understand and develop their own sense of what’s right and wrong online.
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