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3 big things to remember about your children’s online lives

Whenever someone asks me for some advice about their children’s online lives, it always centres on three things:

  1. What should I teach them?
  2. What should I give them?
  3. When should I give it to them?

Technology is an enabling and empowering force, and the online world is the greatest example I can think of where we have the opportunity to get it oh-so-right or oh-so-wrong.

Your online manners

children's online lives

The greatest way to teach is to be a good example, right? Well, we’re not teaching very well, sorry. Every time I see a fight breakout in the comments thread of a Facebook post, my first thought is “I wonder if they have kids?” The truth is (and this will sting), if you’re getting super angry at someone over having a different opinion to you, you might even talk about it this evening when you get home. Your kids will hear about it. Or, if they’re online too and are connected to you on the old blue social network, they may even see it. So my question is – when you have those CAPS LOCK outbursts online, what are you teaching your children? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t defend yourself or your opinion, but do remember that – one day – your children might see that. It’s a good way to keep your online life in check.

Book that domain early

children's online lives

The second thing I did after we’d chosen my daughter’s name (the first was actually popping her out into the world) was purchase her a domain. It sat idle for a while, but I kept it and paid for it diligently every month, with the idea that – one day – I’d show it to her and it’d be a populated website for her to explore and enjoy, or even update herself. That hasn’t turned out to be, but the important part is – if she ever wants it, she’s got it. I did the same with an email address, social media handles and other things – I claimed and parked them, because nobody wants the email address joesoap8992233389@email.com, and the likelihood of us being able to claim a specific name grows smaller every day, as more and more people join the online world. I’ve even started giving domains as gifts to friends at baby showers, because what a cool idea!

Check it, don’t wreck it

children's online lives

Whenever you decide to hand over the cellphone, sign them up for email or put a tablet into their lap is really up to you and your child. A million guidelines and rules are great, but what works for one family specifically won’t necessarily work for every single one. The process is more about the conversations you’ll have than anything else so please have them. They’re fun to have, promise!

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