Four tips to help you develop your child’s media literacy skills

Parenting children today isn’t easy. It’s no longer enough to ensure they’re eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, behaving well at school, hanging out with nice friends and getting enough sleep.

Today you need to protect them from the rest of the world via the temptations of digital media.

As a result, many parents are turning to tracking apps and software like a keylogger, to help them keep track of and even access a record of the digital activities of their kids.

But how else can you ensure your child stays safe online? Here are four tips to help you develop your child’s media literacy skills.

1) Protect your child from cyber bullying

One of the growing concerns of millennial parents is cyberbullying. Bullies today aren’t confined to the playground. Thanks to digital media they can reach and bully your child anywhere, without your knowledge.

Unsurprisingly, as children have more access to digital media, cyberbullying, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are also apparently on the rise.

So how can you best protect your child? It’s important to have open conversations about cyberbullying, so they know how to recognise and feel comfortable talking to you about the subject.

Restricting their use of mobile devices at key cyberbullying times and opportunities can help too. You can achieve this by only allowing them to use digital media when they’re in communal areas of your home, and not allowing them in their bedroom at night.

2) Use the right privacy settings

It’s also important to teach your child a healthy social etiquette when they’re online. This can include being polite to others, and not bragging about belongings or advertising when you’re on holiday, so you don’y give watching thieves an easy opportunity.

Check your child has the right privacy settings on their phone and social media accounts too, so only friends and close family can see their posts and activity.

3) Teach them to question misinformation

In the world of social media, where anyone can post anything, it has become very difficult to verify the news. Misinformation has become the norm, and it’s easy to get sucked into and spread an inaccurate story.

It’s also easy for groups with ill intentions to reach and indoctrinate your child – and even encourage them to take actions that don’t align with the morals you have raised them with.

So it’s important to show your child how to confirm an information source, check from multiple credible sources, and learn to read between the lines to unearth hidden meanings.

4) Remove their digital footprints

We all leave footprints of our activities online. These include information about the sites we’ve visited, the emails we’ve sent and, in some cases, our passwords and search history.

Obviously, all these things are your personal property, and you don’t want them to be stored anywhere, or for a hacker to use our information for identity theft.

So teach your children about the different ways they can remove their digital footprints. Tell them about cookies, cookies policy, and how they can remove cookies to avoid storing their information on other sites.

Help your child to use digital media safely

This is the 21st Century, and every IT advancement will bring new media temptations for children.

And, while you can’t stop your child from using digital media, nor can you constantly be watching over their shoulder, you can teach them safe ways to use digital media to help them enjoy the benefits of staying in touch with the world.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem