Although your children may be able to speedily navigate the World Wide Web, they may not be able to traverse the technological terrain wisely. Using technology proficiently takes critical thinking skills, effective communication abilities, and impulse control. Does your child demonstrate these skills when he or she is instant messaging, creating Facebook posts, or searching for relevant information? 

In many cases, children who use the Internet and other forms of technology, do so creatively, but not effectively. They may be able to post pictures, send comments, and find answers to their homework in an instant; yet, they are often ignorant of the fundamental skills that will allow them to make good choices when deciding which pictures to post, what comments to send, and which answers are most reliable. 

Communicating via email

Texting and tweeting is the new form of talking for many young adults. This quick form of messaging, or instant messaging, has become so popular that it impedes every piece of writing imaginable, including the professional email. While teens have gradually replaced their use of e-mail with instant messaging, emailing still remains one of the most popular forms of communication in the business world. Professors, employers, and businesses correspond via email, making it a required communication tool for your child to understand. 

Yet many children treat emails like text messages: Rarely do they check for spelling and grammar, and they have neglected the formal tone and format of a professional letter, altogether disregarding a proper greeting and closing. In order to communicate effectively in all parts of society, your child must learn how to write a formal email message. 

Show them examples of formal e-mails to businesses, employers, and professors. You can find examples on the Internet. Discuss email do’s and don’ts. (For example, do address individuals by titles. Don’t use lowercase I’s.) Show your child how to use the spellcheck button on their email account, and, if necessary, show them how to cut and paste their message into a Word document to check for grammar. Help your child express themselves using appropriate vocabulary words, as opposed to emoticons : ). Then encourage your child to practice writing formal emails by having them email you. This will prepare them for college and career success.

Find credible sources

Whether completing Black History Month assignments in grade school or writing full-blown research papers in high school, your child must be able to gather ideas from credible, trustworthy sources. Although Google is extremely helpful at finding information on any topic in a matter of seconds, it takes a critical thinker to distinguish credible sources. Can your child make the distinction? General rules of thumb when identifying credible sites include making sure the web address ends in .edu, .gov, or .org and checking to see if the site’s copyright or “last modified” date is relatively recent. Also, tell your child to steer clear of quoting Wikipedia. Although good to use to get a general idea of a topic, Wikipedia is not a credible source since it can be updated by any of its users, including your child. To help your child select credible sources, Google several topics and have your child determine which sites seem most reliable and which do not use the guidelines suggested above. 

Think before posting

If you peruse through the newsfeed on your Facebook account, you may find more than a couple of posts riddled with cuss words and criticisms, all written and uploaded without a care about the consequences. Like some adults, many children post pictures, videos, and comments impulsively without considering their worldwide viewers. Warn your children to think before they post. Impulsive posting could end up limiting their school and job opportunities. For example, deans of students, employers, and instructors are often able to find information on individuals by just typing a name and birthplace in a search box. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 37 percent of employers admit to using social networking sites in order to see if applicants were ideal for their positions. With Internet users having the ability to search and find other users so readily, your child could be easily discounted from academic and career opportunities worthy of those less candid. 

So discuss with your child the penalties associated with impulse posting and create guidelines on how and what your child should post. 

CareerBuilder survey info courtesy: