We have all become very aware that the internet is forever and anything you put out there is a lasting part of your digital footprint. For your kids, you may need to be constantly reminding them of this as they begin to create their own online reputation. To help them become more intentional about the information they put out there, encourage them to T.H.I.N.K. before they post.
Is what they are posting true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind? It is less about making sure that every post possesses these qualities and more about ensuring there are certain qualities they do not possess. Your child should avoid posting content that is untrue, unhelpful, discouraging, unnecessary or unkind.
Is it true? Is the photo, comment, video, caption or story your child is about to post true? Cyberbullying often happens as a result of someone posting untrue information about another person. If your child is not confident that this content is accurate, it probably isn’t worth posting.
Is it helpful? Does posting this content help your child or one of their followers? Every post your child puts out there does not need to be actively assisting one of their online friends. It can be as simple as helping make someone smile. But, having this thought can keep your child from posting something that would intentionally or unintentionally hurt another person.
Is it inspiring? Again, your child doesn’t need to turn their social media accounts into motivational blogs. But, have them consider their intention behind each post. Have them refrain from posting negative content that could discourage or hurt someone else.
Is it necessary? I think we can all agree that the majority of the content online is unnecessary. Encourage your child to really give their posts some thought. If they are ever having second thoughts about the way their post may affect others or themselves in the future, have them consider if it is absolutely necessary.
Is it kind? Spreading kindness online is such an important lesson to teach your kids. The digital world can quickly become a negative and toxic place if not used with positive and responsible intentions. Talk with your child about the severity of online bullying and how they should always consider the feelings of others when posting online.
Teaching your child to T.H.I.N.K. before they post will ensure that they have built the healthy habit of being intentional with their online activity resulting in a more positive digital footprint. The hope is that their online experience will add value to their life rather than negativity. In the future, they will feel confident when applying to colleges and starting their professional career knowing they posted content that was true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind.