Most kids live as much of their lives online as they do offline. But on the Internet there are lots of moral and ethical choices that don’t have to be made offline. These tips lay out ways you can help your children develop a moral compass to guide them through those choices.
Most of what we do online falls into one of three categories: Talk, Shop and Play. There are risks associated with all these activities that consumers need to be aware of so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their computers.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), in partnership with MediaSmarts wants to make sure you stay safe online. We have developed the following list of potential risks you may encounter during your online experience and suggested tools that may assist in lowering the level of risk.
Thanks to the Internet, we now have access to an online marketplace of staggering proportions. If it exists, then it’s probably on the Internet. Despite the benefits of online commerce, there are a few pitfalls and risks to watch out for in order to make your online shopping a positive experience.
Like it or not, if you use the Internet you have an online identity. Some people call this your “brand.” What’s a brand? Think about a brand of soft drink, or computer, or jeans, or a band or a sports team. You probably have a certain idea about each one – what it’s like, who buys it, and so on.
We always hear that sharing is a good thing. And thanks to technology, we can share our ideas, opinions, pictures and videos with our friends and other people we choose to share it with. Most of the time, sharing is good. But if we aren’t thoughtful about how we share, we run the risk of hurting ourselves or someone else. Also, remember that the things you share with your friends can end up being shared with others. That’s why it’s important to think before you share.
One of the most common ethical decisions kids face online relates to how they access and use content like music, games and videos. We can help kids make better choices by teaching them about the issue: in one study, one-quarter of young people said that they would stop accessing content illegally if it was more clear what was legal and what wasn’t.
Sexting is most likely to have negative consequences when the person sending the sext has been pressured into doing it.
It is natural for adolescents to be curious about sex: MediaSmarts’ research suggests that one in ten grades 7- 11 students use the Internet to look for information about sexuality. Forty percent of boys look for pornography online, with 28% looking for it daily or weekly. The problem with pornography is that it is an unhealthy response to a healthy concern.
Recent research has shown that not all youth are equally at risk online, nor are all online activities equally risky. Rather, there are certain characteristics and online activities that could be considered risk markers – indications that someone is likely to take risks online and fall victim to online sexual solicitation. Many of these markers are the same as those used in the identification of at-risk youth; in general, the same youth are at risk online as offline.
How can we help young people develop affective empathy? The best approach depends on how old they are. Children begin to understand empathy as toddlers, but at this stage they are so completely “in the moment” that the best approach is to watch out for situations where we can model and talk about empathy with them. When a child does something or witnesses something that makes somebody feel sad, quietly explain to them how and why it made them feel that way. (It can be valuable to do this with other emotions, such as fear and happiness, as well.)