Parents teach their children from an early age the importance of manners, right from wrong and proper etiquette. Once children enter their school years, they are supposed to know how to act with their peers. The school’s role is to develop a well-rounded individual and mirror the parent’s teachings to raise a responsible adult.

Digital Citizenship is everyone’s responsibility. It is imperative to note that today’s youth is faced with ethical decisions while they are not yet adults and learning to use devices from a very young age. Parents must not turn a blind eye to their children’s online behaviour or usage. Parents are indeed responsible for teaching their children how to be digitally responsible and there will be repercussions if their children act out of hand. The school will intervene if a student is using their devices inappropriately.

Parents cannot say that they were unaware of their children’s misconduct or of their children’s device usage. Phones and computers alike should be checked by parents routinely because children, especially teens, can be using social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Parents should be monitoring which websites their children visit, how much time they spend online as well as what types of research they are doing, including educational and non-educational material.

Jennifer Maccarone, Chairperson of Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board, provides parents with some advice on how to keep on top of their children’s device behaviour. She suggests that parents do unforeseen spot checks on their children’s phones and devices. Every once in a while, she will do an unplanned search on her own children’s phones. As a parent, it is her obligation to know what is going on with her children. “I will not plan a phone check with them. It is random, so they won’t have time to hide photos or messages,” says Maccarone. “I usually check their text messages, emails and social media accounts. I want to make sure that as children they are not making inappropriate decisions or impulses online. I also monitor their online activity. Parents should know that a child may not always be using good judgement when they are using their devices.”

Parents are also plugged into devices and are learning how to cope in a digital world. Ignorance is bliss, but that doesn’t mean that parents should ignore what their children are doing on their devices. Illicit activities can lead to legal implications that can be avoided if parents are aware of what their children are consuming online.