Good citizens in virtual worlds, too

I truly believe that children's good citizenship online helps protect them – and it's a large and growing piece of the online-safety puzzle. How so? Because (I know I've quoted this here before) "youth who engage in online aggressive behavior by making rude or nasty comments or frequently embarrassing others are more than twice as likely to report online interpersonal victimization," according to an analysis from the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center. So I was delighted to find "Raising Good Citizens for a Virtual World," a five-lesson course from author and tech educator Doug Johnson (thanks for bookmarking it, Anne Bubnic). But this is not rocket science, parents. Don't be put off by the words "course" or "five lessons." If you can just help your kids apply what they're learning about how to treat people respectfully and function in community to the online part of their lives, you're accomplishing a lot. Doug points out that the degree of anonymity cyberspace has an all-bets-off effect that people take advantage of. It's true. But this doesn't complicate things; it's simply why the same ethics and citizenship we've always taught them need to be applied to online behavior too. The other protective tool that needs to be applied online is critical thinking (see "How to recognize grooming" and "How social influencing works").

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