Parenting Blog

Raising Smart Digital Citizens To #ShareAwesome

There are so many to choose from, with more seemingly going live every single day, but Instagram has proved the more exciting social sharing platform for me. I recently tried to explain why this is to a friend over dinner and I think it is as simple as the extra work required to post, that a photo is needed and a photo editing screen must be, at the very least, passed through and that those tiny extra steps help prevent Instagram from devolving into snipes and barbs and random useless thoughts scattered across the digital landscape. Sure, you have to always be looking at what other people are eating for dinner, but I’ll take that over the overt nastiness and sponsored advertisements of other social networks. Instagram is also the one platform I would invite my daughters to dip their tiny toes into sooner rather than later, just as Zach from 8-Bit Dad did for his son, to allow him to explore his visual artistic side and allowing himself to sit back and watch the world appear as his son sees and processes it. What filters would he choose, would he go after LIKES or be true to a particular vision? These are fascinating questions when it comes to the mind of a 5-year-old child and letting him be that kind of present in the social age is one of the only ways to start discovering the answers. Plus, the possibilities for conversations about growing up digital are almost as wonderful. And it is those conversations that need to happen in every household. Digital safety is as important as being safe out in the real world, because it is our real world now in the 21st century.

Instagram Sharing Photos of kids_Digital Citizenship Lessons_LifeLock #ShareAwesome

I try to ask my girls permission before I share images or video of them socially, doing so even more as they get older, but when the time comes for them to be social in this extremely modern way, I will not expect the favor returned. Instead of hovering over their online lives, I hope to lie down a sturdy foundation of digital citizenship over many years during their childhood and instill in them the same kind of offline tact, civility and decorum I both taught them about and was an example of every day while they were growing up in their formative period. I’m trying hard in raising smart digital citizens.

Even though my girls are approaching 11 and 8, neither yet has a device of their own. They have access to iPads, a Wii U and a 3DS system to learn and play, and all of those are obviously tethered to the wild and whacky internet, but they have not really experienced online life yet outside of a few internet-based games and some email to far away friends. Sure, they see their mom and I on Facebook (too often) and I’ll show them my photos on Instagram and other shots by talented photographers I follow there but that is about the extent of it. Still, the conversations, however brief and in the moment, are happening about “No bathroom shots!” as well as lighting, angles, compelling storytelling and demonstrating a clear (strong but civil) point of view both visually and in each 140 character digital footprint we leave upon the world.

Instagram Sharing Photos of kids_Digital Citizenship Lessons_LifeLock #ShareAwesome

Nearly a year ago, right after last Christmas, my oldest daughter and I were out on the dusty landscape of eastern California, near the Nevada border. We’d pulled over along the side of the one lane road, grabbed our cameras, and jumped out of the car at the site of a expansive mountain range, endless blue sky, and a 16 foot stretch of an amber-tinted broken down fence with the remains of once foreboding barbed wire protecting what we had no idea. Cattle? Maybe. We each bent down, stretched out, and played with the shape of the wood and the spikes of the metal wired now haphazardly positioned, safeguarding nothing. As we tried to give the classically western frontier scene our personal artistic stamps, we talked about our vision of everyday sights and how and why we might want to share them with others. I explained that I am proud of the way I might have captured a moment inside a frame, how the sunlight meant something to me in the way it spread itself out onto the land in that exact moment in time, and that I want others to see it and, a part of me, wants others to believe that I have some kind of talent for not only the image capture but for the story in miniature I might tell about the how, where, and with whom.

I don’t always remember to ask before I share a photo of my daughters, but here’s one I most certainly got the OK before posting. Because, sad hotdog. 😉

Instagram Sharing Photos of kids_Digital Citizenship Lessons_LifeLock #ShareAwesome

Got something awesome like a silly sad hotdog photo or a snapped moment of terrific accomplishment you’d like to share with the world? Talk to your kids about sharing and being safe online and then put it out on Facebook, Twitter and/or my favorite Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag. Students who enter this #ShareAwesome contest from now through November 30th will have a shot at winning some sweet swag, like tablets and a $2,500 scholarship.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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