May 10

We all know of the many actions we can take to make the world a better place: hold the door open for someone else, recycle your garbage, volunteer for a charitable cause. The list is infinite, in fact. Yet, as our society migrates to the web, many of us spend almost as much time online as we do in the “real world.” And, increasingly we recognize that online actions can be just as devastating or rewarding to individuals as those actions made in the physical world.

As the first generation of children grows up immersed in the digital culture, parents and society in general, need to consider ways to bring the same level of care in teaching kids social responsibility and kindness in real life to their online life. By creating a set of standards based on our real life knowledge, we can provide kids a map for navigating the internet with much needed compassion and responsibility.

Here are ten ways we can start to build a better internet for both ourselves, and our kids:

  1. Be respectful when you comment. There is nothing wrong with feeling passionate or angered by a post, but insults and derogatory phrases should stay out of it.
  2. Before posting a questionable video or photo of your friend, tell him your intentions, and respect his wishes if he asks you not to. Everyone makes mistakes and just because it happens to get caught on camera, it doesn’t mean that person should suffer its infinite presence online.
  3. Make an effort to post or message at least one compliment or uplifting thought every day on another person’s social media page (be it Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or a blog).
  4. When you read a mean or derogatory post about a person you know, defend him or her by either trying to have the post erased or by posting a kind comment to offset it.
  5. Every day, the internet is offering an increasing number of opportunities to educate kids, adults, families in almost every facet of academia and society. Seek them out. Expose yourself and your kids to the diversity of this world in a way that was simply not possible only five years ago.
  6. Set a rule for yourself to never post anything hurtful on your Facebook page. Ever.
  7. Refrain from visiting sites that encourage vices or addictions, (you know the ones).
  8. When you read an article that you really enjoy, leave a comment! That will encourage the site’s author to publish more similar pieces.
  9. Share your personal positive experiences, perspectives, or stories by starting your own blog on a theme near and dear to your heart. While we can’t prevent detestable content from being published online, we can do our best to overpower it by publishing even more “good” content.
  10. Seek websites that offer fulfilling advice or uplifting content and make an effort to visit them regularly for inspiration and positive reinforcement.



Did you like this post? Get the latest posts in your email - .

Tip #26 – Encourage Kids to Nourish the Web with Authentic, Honest Content

Jan 26

The message to inject truth and integrity into our digital footprint is a simple one. Yet,  the pressure to increase traffic, go viral, or acquire more “followers” is more often the motivation that drives our online presence.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote an inspiring letter for the 45th World Communications Day, impelling the young to use the “unprecedented opportunities (of the digital age) for establishing relationships and building fellowship.” This relevant and timely message emphasizes that the new communications technologies can be used to serve the good of the individual and all of humanity.

Recognizing the challenges that young people face online, the pope asks them to “not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile of oneself.” And, reminds us to build an online presence that derives its worth through integrity, not popularity. To build a cyber space that offers nourishment, rather than a “fleeting attraction.” With the barrage of messages promoting the contrary, this is harder than it sounds.

Certainly, the need to grow popularity is a necessary component of successful online strategies. To ignore this fundamental fact of online business would mean certain failure. However, within this structure there are still plenty of opportunities to share authentic experiences that will build a kinder, more supportive cyber-environment.

In other words, we need to teach our kids a moral code in the “virtual” world that reflects  our “real” world expectations. Can we teach our kids to hold the door open in cyberspace? Hm. Yeah, I think we can. It’s time to start.

Related Posts:

If you have nothing nice to post, don’t post anything at all

Encourage Responsibility behind, and in front, of the camera

Read More

Did you like this post? Get the latest posts in your email - .

Share your thoughts with us!

Tip #4 If You Have Nothing Nice to Post, Don’t Post Anything At All

May 29

Growing up in the seventies and eighties, one of the most repeated phrases by teachers and parents was: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Back then, it was in every mom’s verbal arsenal of handy tips for kids, alongside the advice to respond to nasty friends’ insults with a sing-song “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” – my personal favourite. I recall singing it to mean girls as I swung ever higher on some kid’s backyard wooden swing.  The kids may have been mean, but damn if I was going to leave a yard with such an awesome play set! Just sing a righteous rhyme at them and it’d all be fine.

The majority of us have some difficulty being nasty to someone face-to-face. The internet, however, removes that personal barrier thanks to its complete anonymity. Anyone can leave a nasty comment and exit the site without concern that the person you are insulting will either punch you in the mouth or burst into tears. No consequences, right? Uh, wrong. Any logical adult can comprehend the reality that mean words create negative feelings, whether the assault is verbal or virtual.

Etiquette and netiquette aren’t all that different, really. The formula is simple: unkind words breed negativity while kind words, well, breed all that good stuff. And, saying nothing at all is better than the former.  Yet a quick read of the comments under many blog posts or youtube videos indicates that there are a lot of folks with no qualms about posting malicious content.

We have the opportunity to teach today’s kids that the internet is an opportunity to spread goodness. This is easier to do if we advise them to treat online communities like real ones. If you wouldn’t speak like that in your classroom, it’s not okay to share that type of language online, either.

If I can teach my boys to refrain from calling one another mean names (something we’re still working on), it’s going to be that much easier to teach them to delete an unkind comment before clicking ‘Post’. After all, words often slip from our lips before the mind even registers it. Whereas we time time to re-think our response while typing a post. And spending that extra time to reconsider is more important than ever because a verbal insult can dissolve over time but an online post lasts forever.

All the more reason to practice the newest phrase for advice-giving parents: “If you have nothing nice to post, don’t post anything at all.”

Read More

Did you like this post? Get the latest posts in your email - .

Share your thoughts with us!