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Yetty Williams: How to Teach Children Self-Awareness in this Digital Age

Children must understand that once something is posted online, it is almost impossible to erase it.

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We are raising our children in a digital world where it might be challenging to monitor the information they share online. While it is helpful for them to be smart and grow, what they consume online can’t be 100% regulated. It has thus become important for them to have a strong sense of self-awareness. They should be able to determine good content from bad, they should be able to avoid content that promotes negativity. They should be made to understand all of these because the future is always near and before we know it, they are the ones controlling and churning content on social media tomorrow. Whatever they concede to today would determine what they would spew tomorrow. So, they must learn how to navigate these waters early on and be responsible digital citizens.

The first school for every child is their family. It is hugely important that parents teach children important life lessons early on. Children need to be taught self-awareness so it can be easy for them to navigate through the slippery land of social media. Let’s discuss the importance of self-awareness and how parents can teach children about it.

Teach your children the importance of self-awareness in the modern world

Psychologists Shelley Duval and Robert Wicklund said, “Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards.” It is the ability to control what travels through the mind and how it influences the decisions or actions we make. Self-awareness is crucial for everyone in the digital era, and with the expansion of social media platforms, we must all exert control over the information our minds are drawn to. More significantly, it must be taught to the younger generations.

There is pressure and scrutiny on social media, we must train the minds of the children on how to manage and control themselves from this pressure. They must understand that sharing and consuming bad information is wrong and that the information we feed our cognitive processes affects how they function. Teach them to know who they are, what they can consume online and how to manage whatever they have consumed.

Encourage them to be aware of their thoughts and feelings

On social media, it is almost rare to not find content that relates to our feelings. You might be sad and immediately you log in on Twitter, there is a tweet from someone sharing how sad they are. If you’re lazy, you might find a post encouraging you to be lazy. We should help our children to understand their thoughts and feelings. A random person can tweet they are sad but since there is no context or nuance, we should let the children understand that what makes them sad could be dissimilar to the random tweep. That someone flaunts a new house they built doesn’t mean everyone at that particular age needs to build a house. Teach your children to look inward and be satisfied with who they are, and who they are becoming.

Teach them how to set boundaries

Some people go online and share about how the person that reset their nails doesn’t smile. Content like that could be responded to with “and so?” because it does not inform anything. Children need to understand that they don’t have to share everything online. They should only share what they’re comfortable with and deem necessary. They should understand that it is okay to say no to friends or strangers who they deem won’t add any value to them.

Help them understand the permanence of digital footprints

There have been situations where someone says something and people dig up their old tweets or comments where they said something contradictory. Children must understand that once something is posted online, it is almost impossible to erase it. They need to be careful about what they share because it could haunt them later on. There are stories of those who got denied of their admission to a school, a visa to visit a country or even a job. They need to know that what goes around always comes around.

Talk to them about cyberbullying

There are people that derive joy in bullying or demoralising others. It is important to teach kids that being mean hurts and that being kind is better. They also need to be taught not to accept being bullied, or react brashly to it. Teach children to be conscious of their circle because that affects the online content they are exposed to.

It’s important to have regular conversations with your children about self-awareness and the internet. Draw in experiences and examples, encourage them to ask questions from you, and let them try to find the answer to something or a situation before turning to the internet. Also help them understand that not everything from the internet, especially social media, is true.

Children need to be aware of their thoughts and feelings, set boundaries and understand the permanence of the internet. As a parent, you can help your child by having regular conversations with them about being responsible digital citizens in this digital age we live in.

Yetty Williams is a social entrepreneur, coach and the founder of LagosMums, the leading parenting resource and community for parents raising digital citizens. As a speaker, she has been invited to speak several times on Parenting, work-life balance, digital media, and entrepreneurship at various companies, schools, company retreats and many more platforms locally and globally. She is a co-host of the Parenting Today show on LagosTalks 91.3 FM on Thursdays at 12.30 pm where she delves into various parenting topics. Yetty has won many awards over the years some of which include, being announced as the winner in the Social Media/Online media category in the ELOY (Exquisite Lady Of the Year) 2015 Awards and was a nominee in the Digital Media Entrepreneur category in 2019. Yetty was recognized as a conversation starter in the YNaija 100 media list and in 2021 was named as one of the Top 500 Most Influential Africans in the World (Tropics Global Business and Lifestyle Magazine) and in 2022 was listed as an Eko Women 100, recognised by the Lagos State Governor, for her work with Women and Girls among many others. LagosMums through the Google Online Safety Roadshow workshops and as one of the winners in the Africa Online Safety Fund, set up by has successfully trained over 2000 students, and educators in the community and schools on online safety and being responsible digital citizen. Yetty's focus as a parenting coach is particularly focused on raising children in the digital age and ensuring that children and families are using digital for good and raising responsible digital citizens. She holds a certificate in Keeping Children Safe Online and Child Protection from the NSPCC Connect with Yetty: LagosMums on Instagram: @lagosmums Linkedin: LagosMums Parenting Website: Yetty's Website: YettyWilliams on Instagram: @yettywilliams Clubhouse: @yettywilliams

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