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Teaching Your Kids how to “Live” Kindheartedly Online

Teaching Your Kids how to “Live” Kindheartedly Online
by Dina Alexander, MS
Founder and president of Educate and Empower Kids

We have created a world full of technology and every human is affected by its power and influence—especially kids! Each time we text, send an email, post on social media, interact with others on a game, or create a new piece of technology, we create ripples.

In fact, all of our actions online and in “real life” create ripples, or small waves of change around us. This is a tremendous power! We can uplift others or tear them down with a few words or one small action.

How do we help our kids see the huge impact they have on others? And how do we start using technology for good?

Here are 7 simple ways we can start.

1. Take inventory of your kids’ (and your own) technology habits.
How much time are we spending in front of screens? Are we using our phones and other devices just for entertainment or do we see them as tools that we can use to create, influence and spread kindness? Do we have a balance between screen time and screen-free time? Am I setting an example for my kids of using technology to speak kindly to those I interact with, help others, share important information, etc.?

As we take inventory with our kids, we can discuss ways that each of us—not just our kids—can improve behavior, find a balance, and start seeing ways to use our phones and computers to reach out to those in need.

2. Teach your children about positive digital citizenship. Don’t worry, this is a relatively new term for most parents.
Positive Digital Citizenship (PDC): Using technology to make a positive impact on others (family, school, community, etc.) through tolerance, kindness, authenticity, and ingenuity.

It is also about learning to think and act on a local, global, and digital level. It is about creating solutions for our communities, including our digital communities. Essentially, PDC is about seeing your place in the world as vital and influential, and thus realizing your need to be deliberate and authentic as you interact with others. Help your kids understand this about themselves!

3. Co-create solutions for today’s problems with your kids’ creativity and savvy, and your wisdom. With constantly evolving technology all around us, we sometimes get too focused on the dangers and problems of technology. This cannot be all we talk about with our kids! If we want our kids to be safe online and make good choices online, then we need to show them all the positive, valuable things we can do with technology. Does your community have a problem with litter, people driving too fast, or other public safety concerns? Your child can start a petition on change.org to bring new safety measures into law, can create a Go Fund Me project online to raise money, or can send emails and tweets to local government officials.

4. Show your kids various ways they can serve others online. Does your child understand that the majority of what he/she posts online should be positive and helpful? Your child can compliment others, stand up for someone who is being bullied, interact in a thoughtful, rational manner with those he disagrees with, make someone laugh, and create other uplifting experiences online.

Even the simple idea of “random acts of kindness” can easily be applied in texts, emails, or social media posts!

With your child, it is also a great idea to look up websites that provide opportunities to do service in your community. Check out justserve.org, which has local opportunities all over the country that people of all ages can sign up to do.

On allforgood.org, you can sign up to help other organizations OR create your own project in your community.

5. Be a mentor, not just a warden. Show your kids how to behave online by sharing mostly positive content on your social media feed. Teach your kids to post mostly useful, helpful information and articles. Have a conversation about the best ways to compliment our friends and family members through texts and social media. And most importantly, coach them on how to look at a post or text before sending it and ask themselves, “am I sure I really want to send this?”

6. Use your phone and other devices to enhance your family’s spiritual life. There are countless apps for scripture study, inspirational thoughts, mantras, meditation, and scripture games and coloring for kids. Show your child a new one today.

7. Find balance and safety. It is important to focus and lead with discussions about being a great digital citizen. But it is also necessary to talk about online dangers, your family’s screen-use expectations, and rules for maintaining balance in your home between tech use and tech-free times. Have a discussion together about what these rules and expectations should be. Finally, as your kids mature, be flexible with rule creation, but firm when boundaries and rules are broken.

The time has come to start seeing ourselves and our kids as true Digital Citizens, members of a world-wide community. With this understanding comes a great responsibility, but also immense opportunity! Every interaction creates ripples! We can connect with hundreds and thousands of people every day, talk to experts and politicians easily, join like-minded groups of people, learn about ANYTHING, teach others from our experience, and so much more. Let’s seize upon this moment and guide our kids through amazing time in history.

Want more ideas on using technology for good? Check out this free, downloadable lesson.


Dina Alexander is the founder and president of Educate and Empower Kids (educateempowerkids.org), an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. She is the creator of How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She received her master’s degree in recreation therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelors from Brigham Young University. She is an amazing mom and loves spending time with her husband and three kids. Together, they live in Texas.
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Posted: Sep 8, 2017,
Categories: Parents,
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1 comments on article "Teaching Your Kids how to “Live” Kindheartedly Online"

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Falene, 9/8/2017 2:04 PM

Excellent information! Thank you.

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