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Helping our kids learn how to be safe, responsible, and eventually independent online could not be more important!  But where do you start? At TDSU we’ve made it easy for you!  We believe there are three main skills kids need to learn in order to be safe, responsible, and eventually independent online.

It can be terrifying to imagine our tweens navigating the online world outside of our supervision and guidance.  What if we told you there are just three basic skills your tween needs to learn to be safe, responsible, and eventually independent online?  

PAUSE before posting

MOVE it offline

REACH OUT to a trusted adult

PAUSE before posting

Engaging online when emotionally activated can lead to missteps and misunderstandings.  Failing to be thoughtful and intentional when interacting online with others is a surefire way to end up in a sticky situation.  Introduce your tween to the concept of Pausing Before Posting.  

Knowing when and how to Pause Before Posting can prevent your tween from getting caught up with what we at TDSU call Problematic Posts.

Problematic Posts are texts or posts that are: mean spirited; include the use of photos without consent; require context, knowledge of intention, and/or tone to make sense; or violate a school’s Code of Conduct or Digital Use contract.  

Help your tween learn this important skill with some of our fun activities, like Serenade Before Sending, Permission Before Posting, and Building the Mindfulness Muscle.

Get your tween thinking about the importance of tone and context when communicating online with our activities like Text Together for Tone and Be the School Principal.

And prepare your child for how to disengage from text chains that turn nasty with our Fire Drill activity.

Be sure to model Pausing Before Posting, and narrate the steps you take to stop yourself from being reactive online.  

MOVE it offline

When communication gets complicated – meaning it is about emotional content, sensitive subject matter, or just feels complex – it is important to know what to do!  

Help your tween learn this skill with our Move it Offline activity, where you help them come up with some scripted responses to use when they find themselves in a scenario that could be uncomfortable, anxiety-producing, or just new to them.

Keep the conversation going with your tween by asking their opinion about whether something you plan to text seems appropriate for online communication or needs to be handled offline.  Model moving a conversation offline – when you Text With Your Tween let them know when things have gotten complex or seem to require a face-to-face.  

REACH OUT to a trusted adult

Despite our best efforts, our kids might encounter what TDSU calls a 3D – It’s Bigger Than Me.  These are texts or posts that are Disturbing, Dangerous, or Disparaging.  Make sure your tween knows what to do – and what NOT to do – in these situations.  Step one: REACH OUT to a trusted adult. 

But it isn’t enough to just tell them to REACH OUT, help your tween Create a Reach Out Plan.  Having a plan can reduce stress and make it easier to take action!  In addition, by taking the time to work with your child on a plan, you are showing them that you take 3Ds seriously and that they are not alone in this.

Will learning these three skills prevent your tween from making a mistake online? 

We can’t promise that, but we can promise that promoting these skills with your tween, and helping them to develop healthy online habits, will strengthen the connection between the two of you.  Showing your tween that their online life is something that gets talked about; something that requires practice; and something that you care about will help the two of you work towards the inevitable day when they launch into the digital world without your constant supervision.

You’ve got this!  And with TDSU at your side, it couldn’t be easier!

Don’t just follow your kids online.  Lead them.