This is the second article in a series that the EFG staff will publish regarding ‘Our Digital Future.” The truth is that the world is rapidly entering a digital age and there is no real way to shield our children from that fact. The best we can do is learn to understand it and share strategies to help them thrive. We hope that you will enjoy these articles and will share them with others.
Toxic behavior is one of the biggest problems on the internet. Casual racism, sexism, harassment, cyberbullying, and other abhorrent behaviors abound. The anonymity of the internet has driven many internet users wild with power. These people attack a person relentlessly because of a slight (real or imagined), or for laughs. Even worse, this behavior is often not met with any consequences. This is a cycle that we, as parents raising a new generation of digital citizens, have a responsibility to break.
One of the best ways to do that is to be responsible and positive digital citizens ourselves and set a good example for our kids.
This might sound obvious. But, a lot of the people who communicate on the internet forget that they are dealing with actual people. When they do so their tendency to be impolite (and even downright nasty) is increased. We, as parents, should do our very best to be polite whenever we can and to encourage our kids to do the same.
Watch it With the Trash Talk
A lot of us are VERY competitive (myself included). We just have to win. And when we do? We talk trash. The issue is that this trash talk combined with the intoxicating anonymity of the internet can lead to inappropriate behavior. It is VERY important that we set an example for our kids and not talk trash inappropriately.
Now, my wife will likely be making a face at me while reading this. I definitely talk my share of junk while playing games. She knows it. I know it. Everyone who plays against me knows it. BUT… I make sure that my kids know that there is a difference between “Holy Moly! Did you see what just happened to you son!” and insulting my opponents’ mom, sexuality, or appearance. We have to remember that our kids emulate our behavior. We need t0 use good judgement in the way we play because we will definitely help shape their attitudes and behavior.
Sportsmanship Isn’t Just for the Soccer Field
We spend a lot of time teaching our kids that winning and losing isn’t everything at their team sports events. (Some might even say that we as a society have gone too far with that… but that is a different topic.) But, it is important to make sure that we work to transfer that attitude regarding winning/losing over to video games. There is something to be said about taking pride in your performance and being competitive. But, there is no reason to get angry when losing at a video game. We have to make sure our kids know that.
These are obviously not the only ways that we can be good role models for our kids as they navigate our digital world. What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments!