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Our View: Online etiquette and safety for children needs parent participation

 

 

 

Later this month, this year's Columbus Mayor's Youth Council class will meet for the first time. The council includes students from each of the city's public and private high schools. While the students probably never realized it, the application for their spot on the council began before they had ever heard of the program. 

 

As a part of the screening process, students' social media history was examined. Those whose conduct and content on social media platforms raised concerned were immediately eliminated. 

 

In this era of technology, people begin writing their resume with their first social media post, but that's just one aspect of how the way we communicate has been dramatically altered by technology. 

 

Our communication is instantaneous, enduring, impersonal and expands far beyond the people who make up our world. Smart phones have only amplified the situation. 

 

It is not uncommon for elementary school children to have devices that allow them to communicate instantly to an often unknown and unlimited audience. 

 

While these technologies offer opportunities for our youth, they also come with great potential for abuse. 

 

Children need training on how to manage their online lives. 

 

We called the Columbus, Lowndes and Starkville-Oktibbeha school districts and all three of them have some type of social media training for students. We think that's a great start. It needs reenforcement at home, though. 

 

Texting etiquette, the risks of chatting with anonymous people online and posting questionable content on social media are just a few of the issues that should be addressed between parents and children. 

 

We tell our children to look people in the eye and to have a firm handshake. Shouldn't we caution them about how easy it is to say something regrettable over text or email? 

 

We tell them to be home by a certain time. Shouldn't we educate them about the repercussions of sending inappropriate photos to people? 

 

We tell them to watch how they behave in public. Shouldn't we warn them about making questionable social media posts? 

 

Teachers used to caution students that certain behavior would be recorded in their "permanent record." These days, children are creating their own permanent records online from a very young age. 

 

Teaching children how to manage their online presence is a life skill we should be re-enforcing at home.

 

 

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