Why is digital intelligence important? Do you know it is dangerous not to have digital intelligence? Do you know how you score when it comes to your digital quotient and digital intelligence?
Digital is the the language of today. Everyone is digital in some way or the other and it has the potential to make or mar you. It is good for you when you pop up on Google with positive results, however one bad result can affect you negatively.
This is not limited to adults, children have access to a tool with such life long ramifications. It seems to be common sense then that children need to understand how to behave in the online world.
Parenting and Digital Intelligence
As a responsible parent you would not let a child get into a car and get on 3rd mainland bridge without going through driving school. Anyone operating a car without understanding the rules can hurt themselves or others. Think about the potential results from road accidents if everyone doesn’t know how to drive? The damage, increased premiums from insurance, cost to replace or repair vehicles etc. Now imagine the largest unrestricted world of the web, social media and apps accessible literally from your fingertips? Do you now see the potential pitfalls?
Would you drop your child at an airport and say good luck let’s see where you end up? It is not the responsibility of the other travellers to keep your child safe is it? It’s your responsibility as a parent.
This is no different from your parental responsibility when it comes to ensuring digital intelligence. The reality is that whether your child is aware or not, he or she will amass a digital footprint which will follow your child all through life.
Here are some ways you can help your child with digital intelligence.
1. Help them think through – what are they sharing, why are they sharing and with who are they sharing. This question of what you are sharing should be the starting point. Do they know what’s appropriate? are they old enough for the App they are using? are they being positive online? If they encounter bullying how should they act? Having these sorts of conversations help to set the ground rules of what’s appropriate before you place access to world at their fingertips.
2. Parental monitoring – There is a time and place for the critical role of parental monitoring. if you don’t the stakes are too high. There is so much inappropriate content children are exposed to. However, with the right information, you can do what you can to protect your children. Take actions like installing monitoring software, I personally use Qustodio and quite happy with it. Other steps like turning on Google safesearch and turning off location tagging are helpful. If your children are old enough to be on social media, hopefully you have built a good rapport so you can follow and ‘friend’ them.
3. Talk About Experiences – talk to your children about what is going on online. When you spend time talking about what is going on it gives you a chance to get an insight into how your children think. Even younger children have access to information as they use the internet and Google for homework.
Talk about who they call their friends – a friend who taunts you or makes you do uncomfortable things is not really a friend. Find out what do they do online when they are together with their friends. As a parent spend time chatting with your kids friends as well.
Information is free so parents and caregivers should research and learn what is going on. The more you are aware of all the new trends and influences out there the better you can share your values.
4. Limit screen time – children can get addicted to social media. Research shows that the same feeling people get from a like and social media engagement can be likened to that from using substances. Encourage your child to have other interests and limit screen time.
5. Future Decisions – Recruiters refer to digital footprints to hire nowadays. one careless picture or comment on social media can cost a future job! This is happening as shared by recruiters even here in Nigeria.
Some students got admitted to study at Harvard University. Naturally they set up a whatsapp group to get to know each other before they arrive on campus. Apparently in this group a few of them shared inappropriate content and this information got to school management. The school rescinded the admission of these students – as they put it these were not the type of individuals they wanted in their school community. Whose fault was it? Who should have taught the students to know better?
Remember anyone can munch your chat, take a screenshot and forward it. It goes back to the importance of “digital intelligence – what are you sharing, why and with whom are you sharing”.
Technology and the digital world is great but used in excess or in the wrong hands it can be damaging.