No matter what most people love to believe in, social media and the Internet, in general, are a huge part of people’s lives. Kids are not an exception here – growing up in the digital environment, they are incredibly tech-savvy from a young age. Various studies show that kids spend about 7 hours a day engaged in some kind of media, usually online. Being the most frantic content consumers, kids are not good at sorting good content from bad one. Plus they are not really aware of the rules for content use. Here are some tips for teaching kids about the Internet and how to keep content safe for them and their families.
What are piracy and content abuse?
Kids contribute a great portion of their time daily to consuming online content. As a result, they have significant chances of getting exposed to the pirate content. These could be movies and cartoons, music and especially ‘free’ games offered to kids by numerous resources.
Some of them could really be free to play and enjoy. But many of these games are free only because the companies distributing them have stolen some or all the content used. Then, by providing places for the legitimate ads – both in games and on their websites – these companies earn millions.
Why is stolen content risky?
Few people would allow their kids (or themselves) walk into a music store, grab a disk or a vinyl record and leave without paying. So why should you allow the same behavior for kids while they are online? Installing pirated content is illegal yet incredibly common at the same time. Not being properly authorized, these ‘free’ files could easily become the source of malware. And every day millions of people forget or purposely ignore the need of checking the content’s legal status. These people, who download obliviously unauthorized content should be aware of viruses that may come with the download and can invade their computers. This often leads to passwords and credit card numbers stealing, or even identity thefts and other cybercrimes.
At the end of the day, this ‘free’ program would come out quite costly.
How to teach them to respect the content?
Respecting the online content is not only about not downloading pirated music, movies or games. It also implies the ability to use the content correctly and legally. It is especially important for the kids to respect the content as their education process is closely connected to it.
Seeing tons of information everywhere they go, kids often do not perceive it as something valuable and costly. Today, they can effortlessly find online any information needed to accomplish school assignment – but crossing the line that leads to online plagiarism is too easy. Also, plagiarism now goes far beyond texts. School reports usually include infographics, multimedia presentations, and even video materials. Using someone else’s creations without giving the proper credit to their owners is plagiarism, and it should never be encouraged.
What should we do as parents?
Adult and wise, parents should be a role model for their kids. Adults should all be aware of the today’s situation with cyber security. So, making sure children understand why the content abuse is risky and irresponsible deed is essential for every family. Teach them the difference between referencing someone’s work and giving proper attribution on the one hand, and actual theft of someone’s work in the other hand.
Also, some believe smaller abuse actions (like content abuse) could lead to more serious offenses. Thus, kids and teens should be punished for stealing or downloading content illegally. Otherwise, they could commit other, riskier online crimes in future.