It’s natural to assume our kids understand words and concepts that are commonplace to us. But when it comes to online safety—it’s best not to make assumptions. With the explosion of texting, sharing, and the 24/7 digital banter, any day is a good day for a primer on words that daily intersect with our kids’ understanding.
7 critical words kids should understand:
- Gossip: Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.
- Rumor: A rumor is a statement or story that is in circulation but has not been proved to be true.
- Lie: A lie is a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth.
- Malice: Malice is a desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another person because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness.
- Bully/cyberbully: A bully is a person who teases, hurts, or threatens smaller or weaker people. A cyberbully behaves like that online.
- Discrimination: Discrimination is making a distinction against a person or group of people based on the group, class, or race to which that person belongs.
- Victim: The victim is the one who is on the receiving end of online social cruelty. A victim online is also known as the “target” of jokes, threats, or rumors.
Here’s how to get your kids talking:
- Go over these words with your kids. Define them in the context of your kids’ age, online activities, and circle of friends.
- Quiz your kids on the meaning of these words. This will help raise their awareness and help them more readily recognize poor behavior when they see it online. Explain the differences between the words and clarify.
- Use examples in your own life of times that knowing the meaning of these words (or not knowing them) changed the outcome of an online exchange.
- Ask your kids candid questions such as “Do you see yourself in this role?” “Have you noticed others doing this online?” “How did it make you feel when you saw this going on?”
- Role-play with your kids. Come up with ways to handle tense situations, stand up for others, and turn a conversation around.
- Equip your kids with solutions. Go over the process of reporting bullies on Facebook or blocking people. Encourage them to keep open communication with parents and teachers about inappropriate online activity they witness.
- Reward or acknowledge your kids when you see them being leaders or good digital citizens online.