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Saturday, April 06, 2019

It’s not just about college admissions: Teaching kids to live well, even when no one is watching | Parenting - The Washington Post

When it comes to social media, it's easy to tell kids to scrub their social media profiles and posts to protect themselves from college admissions trouble. It shouldn't just be about not getting caught, according to Devorah Heitner, founder of Raising Digital Natives and the author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World,” a guide for mentoring digital kids.
Photo: iStock
Sometimes the ethical lines are drawn very clearly. Take, for instance, the recent college admissions cheating scandal. It is a little more than just “nudging the scales” if you find yourself hiring someone to photoshop your child’s face onto the photograph of a kid who is actually getting out of bed before dawn and practicing his pole vaulting every single day.

But what happens when those lines are not quite so clear? What about the smaller infractions we might be committing in service of supposedly helping our children. For instance, what are we modeling for our kids when we lobby their teachers to change a grade, and teach them to call this “self-advocacy?” Or when we harangue their Little League coach into granting more playing time?

These relatively little transgressions also are not a great strategy to raise ethical humans.

Those lines feel even blurrier as we try to figure out the new and ever-changing rules of managing digital reputations. When it comes to social media and their digital devices, it is easy to tell children to clean up their act. To scrub their social media profiles and posts. To encourage them not to use their real names, for “safety’s sake.”...

Start the conversation with your children from a positive place. Show them how to align their actions with being a good person: “I know you are a good friend, but that kind of attempt at humor might make it hard to see that you are.”

Ask questions so your child learns to be self-reflective. For instance, ask your child if they have ever met someone whose social media presence was very different from how they act in person. What does your child think about that disconnect? What could they do to correct it in themselves?