ETHICAL USE

Just because kids seem tech-savvy at increasingly younger ages, doesn’t necessarily mean that their brains are developing at the same rate as their digital acumen. It takes children about twelve years to fully develop the cognitive structures that enable them to engage in ethical thinking. Before twelve, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for children to fully grasp the effects of their actions upon others, online or otherwise.  Yet children under 12 are going online at increasingly younger ages.

 

Additionally, the frontal lobe in the human brain—the judgment center — is not fully developed until 25 years of age. In other words, although a young person might understand, for example, the impact of nasty text message upon its recipient, the part of their brain that should be warning… “hey, hold on a minute, better not hit send” isn’t fully operational yet. 

 

So, short of taking away mobile phones and computers until well after college graduation, what's a parent to do? Well, one place to start is by engaging in “digital citizenship” lessons that let kids practice ethical situations in a safe, non-tweet-able environment.

 

  • Respect age limits on social networking sites. 

 

  • Read and abide by terms of use on all sites.

  • Avoid piracy and stealing of any kind.

  • Always give authors credit for their work.

  • Check terms of use before downloading anything from the Internet.

 

  • Respect all citizens, online and off.

  • Always think twice before hitting "send," there is no erase button online.

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