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As we look back on Safer Internet Day 2018 campaign, it’s important to reflect on the main message and carry it forward for the rest of the year. The key focus for 2018 is sharing respect through responsible and positive digital citizenship.

For too many, there is a sense that you can say or do whatever you like when online. People hide behind a username, which gives them the courage to behave in a way that they wouldn’t do in the ‘real world’. The problem is, the distinction between the digital landscape and the so-called ‘real world’ is becoming blurred. What is said and done online has a tangible impact on flesh and bone.

This is why it’s essential that children learn how to interact online and how to take responsibility for those interactions. There are many lessons that can be taught both at home and in the classroom to reinforce positive digital citizenship and this post looks at 4 of them.

1. Be accepting of what is different to you

This lesson isn’t really specific to the online world and good digital citizenship. However, it has become even more important now that we live in a world where we have instant access to people from other countries, cultures and ways of life. We also have constant access to real-time news feeds and it can be tempting to join the conversation. Bullying is never acceptable and students should understand what online bullying looks like and how they can avoid being part of it.

 2. Verify what you see online

Fake news – it’s a real thing. The spread of information has never been easier than it is today, but with that comes the danger of spreading misinformation, lies and unverified facts. Teaching children about the need to check their sources isn’t just a good idea for their school projects, it’s an essential lesson for life these days. Snopes is a great fact-checking resource where students can verify things that have read or seen online.

 3. Learn stranger danger!

The global village that now exists online is filled with the same potential threats as the real world. The modern-day version of not taking sweets from a stranger is to not accept friend requests from someone you don’t know. Social media is part of life now, and children – especially teenagers – can’t get enough of it. However, the dangers of letting them loose on Facebook or Snapchat without teaching them about the potential threats is very real. Educate them about which information is acceptable to share online, and practical tips like how to disable the location on their social media posts.

4. Be confident with technology

Now that you’ve told your students about potential dangers, it’s important to show them how to use the Internet and technology with confidence. It’s no good teaching kids today to distrust smartphones and social media because they are a massive part of the way we live. Create lessons that focus using the Internet responsibly. Teach them how to check facts, verify sources and avoid giving out personal information online.

Thankfully, there is a way to give them both the freedom to learn and a safe environment. At school, an MDM (mobile device management) solution, such as Mobile Guardian, allows teachers and parents to manage and monitor how mobile devices are being used. Access to certain websites or apps can be blocked, screen time can be limited and messaging apps can be monitored. These eSafety features give children the chance to learn about the importance of their digital citizenship without external threats.

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