How to Be a Good Cyberparent
You’re living in an unprecedented era in human history. For the first time ever, high-speed Internet technology is readily available, giving anyone with access to the Web the ability to look up information on virtually any subject.
Although the Internet has undoubtedly made your life better by providing you with a fast and efficient means of sharing information and communicating with one another, it has also come with certain risks. There’s the danger of online identity theft and anonymous personal attacks, among other threats. Then there’s the woefully outdated system of laws that you rely on to govern Internet interactions.
For parents raising children in this generation of Facebook, Twitter and Google, the thought of keeping their children safe from the dangers of the Web can be overwhelming. What if they get into trouble online? Could their social media missteps be permanent black marks on their reputations? How to be a good cyberparent?
Those are natural concerns, and parents are right to consider them, but there’s no need to be afraid if you’re prepared. Being a good cyberparent means understanding how to use the Internet to monitor your children online and to help them proactively build a strong online reputation. This article offers tips on how to be a good cyberparent.
Make clear rules about using the Internet.
If your children don’t have clear rules for what they can and can’t do online, they’re bound to make a few mistakes. That’s why it’s important to establish a clear list of rules for using the Web and social networking websites in particular. Check out the list of Five Common Sense Social Networking Rules to get started.
In addition to setting out specific rules, you should also make sure to have an earnest discussion with your children about their online reputation. Check out this article for advice on talking to your child about online reputation management and Internet privacy.
Monitor your child’s name online.
You should know what your children are doing on the Web. It’s the most effective way to keep them safe from sharing inappropriate content online or becoming a victim of cyberbullying. Regularly monitor your children’s online behavior, including their social networking profiles, to make sure they aren’t giving out personally identifiable information and they’re not doing or saying anything that could hurt their reputation down the road.
With college admissions officers and job recruiters increasingly looking at online search results to make determinations about candidates, it’s important not to allow a mistake your children make as a teenagers to affect the rest of their lives.
Be a part of their social network.
If you don’t know how Facebook works, it’s hard to help your children keep their Facebook profile private. When your child joins a social networking website, you should sign up for it as well to get a feel for how the website works and for the types of privacy controls it offers. Additionally, you should make sure that your children “friend” you online and that you have complete access to see what is on their profile.
If possible, monitor their friends’ social networking profiles as well. If your son or daughter is misbehaving online, they may not be doing it only on their profile. Anything you share on the Web, no matter if it’s on your page or someone else’s, should be treated as if it will be there forever. Keeping your eyes and ears open to the content in your children’s social network is an important way of making sure they don’t hurt their reputations.
Set a good example.
As a parent, you should be a role model to your kids, both online and in the real world. If you’re posting party photos or blogging about how much you hate your job, you’re not setting a very good example for your son or daughter. To know how to be a good cyberparent, you have to be a good cyber role model.
If your children do a Google search on your name, what will they find? Hopefully, they will see a clean, professional and content-rich list of results about their wonderful mom or dad. If you don’t have a good-looking “Google resume,” work on gaining control of your search results while you help your children with their online reputation.