The internet wasn't built for children, and that's why we believe they need a Bill of Rights for the Digital Age. So we created one! Made up of 9 rights, our Bill of Rights provides parents with a much needed template for raising resilient and joyful children in the digital age. We will be discussing each right in a series, starting with: The Right to Feel Safe Online.
Why The Right to Feel Safe Online is important:
Most kids feel safe most of the time. But today feeling safe isn't just about being physically safe from harm. Online, it's also about feeling like you can trust the people around you, feeling comfortable in your environment, and having a sense of control over your life. That's why it's so important to create a sense of safety for kids, both offline and online.
When children feel safe, they are able to thrive, period. A sense of safety is essential for wellbeing, and it allows children to explore the online world around them without fear. It also helps them to form trusting relationships, develop a sense of self-confidence and allows children to be more creative and open-minded.
When kids feel safe online, they can take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them without fear of repercussions. Lastly, feeling safe is essential for children's physical and mental health. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, and it can even boost the immune system. When children feel safe, they are able to thrive in every area of their lives.
Helping kids feel safe online is easier than we think:
Most parents are very aware of the need to keep their children safe online, but many feel overwhelmed by the task. After all, the online world is always changing, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends. Plus, kids today face challenges that most parents never had to deal with in early childhood. Fortunately, we don’t have to be tech experts to help kids feel safe online.
Offline, ensuring their kids feel safe is something parents already do naturally. We create safe environments for kids by making sure they have a stable home life, access to quality healthcare and education, and opportunities to play and explore in their communities. Today, we need to be just as intentional about this in their digital lives.
Parents can help their kids feel safe online by teaching them about how familiar childhood challenges may look different online and often occur earlier than when we were kids. By making safety a priority in both our offline and online worlds, we can help ensure that all kids have the chance to thrive.
Key Step: Treating Digital Safety Like Physical in Early Childhood
There are some basic steps that parents can take to ensure their kids feel safe online. One step is to make sure they understand that feeling physically safe does not mean they are also digitally safe.
But what does that actually mean? What's the difference between physical safety and online safety?
Online safety is different from physical safety, but that doesn't mean it's any less important. Physical safety is all about keeping our bodies safe from harm. We make sure we don't put ourselves in danger by being aware of our surroundings, and we take precautions to protect ourselves from things like accidents and violence. Online safety, on the other hand, is about keeping our personal information private, avoiding grownup content and understanding how to interact with new people safely in online spaces.
By understanding the difference between physical safety and digital safety, we can empower our kids to make informed decisions about how to stay safe during screen time or when playing at the park.
For example, being at home today doesn't mean kids still can't be contacted by new people online. Just like we teach them to find a safe adult if they are made uncomfortable by a stranger in a store, it's also important to have regular conversations about when it’s ok to connect with a new person online and make sure they know how to block or report someone if they ever feel uncomfortable or threatened. Parents can supplement these conversations by setting up privacy settings on their child's devices, and checking in on their online activity regularly. By taking these simple steps, parents can help their kids feel safe and secure online.