The internet is a four lane highway and your child just ran into it. While you ate dirt growing up, children today unlock their parent’s smart phones and navigate to their favorite apps. The behavior is intelligent but the understanding is limited. Children mimic adult mannerisms that fool us to believe they are completely aware of what is happening online. Just because they are button savvy doesn’t mean they are media literate.
Studies show that young people spend more time on technology than they do with family and at school. We will now have to add media to the four basic food groups.
Treat the internet as if it is a place where they can travel without ever leaving the room. Take your child on a trip. “Lets go to the Zoo, then lets visit some friends, lets create something.”
Set some rules. “If you ever need to take a field trip, let us know.” “Don’t talk to anyone you don’t know.” Designate where they can travel to on the web and specify a time they need to be back.”
Make shortcuts on the desktop and put them in a folder. Here are a couple of sample sites. Destination Modern Art:
Teach them key words, make it a game. “What is an electronic system that connects billions of people using computers, phones, or other devices, and allows them to communicate with one another?” If they answer “Internet,” they get 10 min online. “What is being connected to the Internet?” If they answer “online,” they get another 10 min. “What is a place you can visit on the Internet?” If they answer “website,” that would be another 10 min.
Give it a try, if you have modifications, comment below. There is a free lesson study at Common Sense Media. See the video.