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Internet Tide Safety 101

I remember when the internet became more and more accessible and convenient throughout the world. A common term I heard was “surfing the web” a term we don’t use as much now but the meaning still lives within many of us. I must admit that I am not a surfer but I recently read an article about how rip currents function and the real dangers that exist for ocean swimming. 

Certain signs of rip currents include, a difference in waves, a difference in water color and foam or objects moving swiftly out towards sea. Okay this blog is about Digital citizenship, above you will see the map of how to escape a rip current. Lets for a minute think about how this relates to our experience using the internet.  

First of all, in this map you see a majority of the ocean is safe. Speaking as someone who was married on the beach, I love being in the ocean. Fun activities like surfing, body boarding and snorkeling are my favorite. When viewing the internet as a whole, a majority is safe and full of fun.

At the same time we need to be mindful of where our attention is. The reality is, video games, social media, websites and videos are doing cartwheels for your attention. Certain online content will sprout flowers and others weeds. A Digital Citizen is someone who uses the internet experience responsibly, looking to plant flowers. I am not suggesting we can’t use such services for entertainment or “fun” but when you do use it that way, plan it out in advance and truly enjoy that time. I am a big believer in living in the moment, when it’s time to watch a movie with family, go all out and pop some popcorn. If you have a science question for the upcoming science fair, use the internet but use the resource for that purpose. Certain aspects of surfing the internet is just like a rip current, it is so easy and sometimes unrecognizable when web surfing has you lost in the online ocean. 

In 2015 the Merriam-Websters dictionary added the word “Clickbait” it is defined as “a sensationalized headline or piece of text on the internet designed to entice people to follow a link to an article or another web page”. No confession necessary, if you have caved to clickbait you aren’t alone. With the cookie tracks we leave when we go from website to website it creates easy clickbait where advertisements know what we want. On the other hand, these same cookies and saved web history has given us answers to difficult crimes that need to be solved. Such recourses have been an incredible tool for police detectives.   

In conclusion, keep asking questions. Technology is moving so fast right now and at times its easy to feel like a rat in an experiment. A few examples of questions to be asked, how can I benefit from my online experience? What can I add to help the internet be better?  What online rip currents take me away from online purpose? Where are my priorities and how can the internet assist me to better fulfill my roles?


How to Approach the Tools We Have

Recently when reading the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, He discusses two types of approaches that we may have about technology. The first approach Newport calls the Any-Benefit approach. This approach is feeling “justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything that might possibly miss out on If you don’t use it.” Essentially if an app/website/game has any kind of benefit at all, it is worth using.

Teach Your Teen in 2016!

Iphones, PlayStation, and headphones, did any of these electronics make it under your Christmas tree this year?

If you are a parent of a child ages 8 and above, its very likely electronic devices were apart of your gift giving, furthermore it’s very likely you haven’t seen your child since Christmas. Okay hopefully that’s not the case. I realized this when I ate at a restaurant the day after Christmas. I saw several kids exploring their new devices. I even saw one young man become annoyed when what appeared to be his grandmother, was asking him questions. Didn’t grandma see that he had his headphone in, that’s codes for I’m busy!

When meeting with parents one common question is where can the line be drawn? The truth is every person is different. The famous Steve Wozniak said he was a very shy person, and being online helped him be himself. No person knows your child better than you. Whatever you believe is most important for parenting children with electronics, its critical to clearly communicate the boundaries.

Help your child understand the difference between Privilege and Right. As we approach the New Year there is no better time to create a safe plan with your children. Please consider how both you and your child can compromise in the middle. My friend Josie previously posted a blog entitled “iRules” which demonstrates a great example of how to forecast Internet privileges. Teach your teen in 2016!