Its been a few years now since the internet waltzed into our lounge rooms and more recently into our pockets. Nearly 20 years in fact (wow, that makes me feel old). I think it is fair to say it’s influence on our daily lives has evolved at lightning speed. It is this online world where we seek information, we seek entertainment and we seek connection. It is no longer however, just about researching, shopping, banking, booking flights and diagnosing our own ailments. Now we are meeting, reconnecting, dating, and in constant contact with friends as Social Networking Sites begin to take on face to face interaction.
Despite the challenges and potential dangers of life online, it really is a great time to live. The internet provides us with so many opportunities for work, for support, for connecting and for learning. But just as the offline world bequeaths us certain rights and responsibilities, so too must the online world. If much of our living and the living of our kids is to be done online, it is imperative that we as parents help to ensure our kids have both of these under control.
The United Nations outlines some basic human rights that should be afforded every child. Whilst we know this is way too often not the case, theoretically, every child has the right to knowledge, to protection, to participation, to justice, to education and to health. These rights must extend to life online.
- Our kids must have access to knowledge of how the internet works
- how information is accessed
- what is fact and what is not
- what is content and what is advertising
- from bullying and harassment
- from violence
- from any who make them feel they have no value
- right to participate in discussions and forums
- right to engage and interact on social media and websites
- right to an opinion without fear of violence or harrassment
- right to legally seek help if feeling threatened in any way
- right to go to schools, teachers, parents and authorities with concerns about online behaviour
- Right to education and information about what is available online
- A right to remain safe physically, mentally and emotionally whilst interacting online.
It should be noted that a right to privacy should come under one’s basic human rights. This however, is certainly something that cannot be relied upon online. It is far better as a parent to teach our kids the transparent nature of online activity. If there is anybody that you don’t want to read what you are writing, then don’t hit send.
The main responsibilities online are to respect others and respect ourselves.
- Our kids must know it is their responsibility not to impede the basic rights of others or in any way participate in behaviour that is detrimental to others.
- And equally important is a responsibility to respect ourselves. Our kids must be aware of their digital footprint and how this effects how they are perceived and who and what they represent.
Now we know in real life that the basic human rights of many many individuals are far from recognised and again we would be remiss to think that life online is any different. But as parents I believe we need to arm ourselves with all that we can to ensure our kids have the greatest chance of enjoying life online.
Happy Safer Internet Day!
Do your kids know their rights and responsibilities online?