My so far stories with the online world and recommendations for parents

I was born in 2000, which was a year when personal computers were rare. The common communication devices were beepers and shared computers. Arcades played loud music to attract pedestrians, while video stores rented DVDs and cassettes for profit. People went to the mall for shopping; crouched in front of the crowded breakfast stores to have hot soy milk, which spread the steam to the cold winter sky. They expressed their deep thoughts from afar to friends’ feelings by sending mails with attached stamps; went to banks to save or withdraw money. People subscribed to newspapers for information and entertainment.  On weekends, my parents brought me to the park, left our screams on the roller coasters, and backed home with the handmade sweet marshmallow on our lips. Life was slow. Some people would describe this kind of slowness as dull. However, it was when I felt people were human with fresh bodies and tender hearts.

A nostolgia poem "Past Live"

A nostolgia poem “Past Live”


The digital era descended around 2010 when my parents bought an HP laptop. It was a pink and small computer. Its system was XP. Like an animal who firstly got a chance to taste seasoned human food, I was shocked by the Internet functions: searching, saving, and communicating. The world became small. Life became fast. I can’t forget the time when my father brought his online bank card home and bought me a pair of trousers. Like a Morlock who had a chance to see Eloi’s developed world, I was confused, scared, and excited. I had numerous questions about the computer: How could it have the functions of a clock, radio, television, game machine, handphone, and dictionary simultaneously? Why could my father pay for the trousers with that small chip?


I am not good at manipulating computers and technical things. Meanwhile, I am not interested in them. The reasons could be my poor performance in computer class at elementary school and my parents’ consistent warnings. My elementary computer teacher would teach us how to use Office software such as Powerpoint, Word, and Photoshop (which was my nightmare); he also taught the programming software Logo (another nightmare). Interestingly, he spent little time teaching us cyber safety. The reason might be this software was local and didn’t require an Internet connection. After learning from this computer teacher, the computer gave me a complicated and challenging impression. Therefore, I even fear using the computer.

My parents set time restrictions on my computer time. When the time was up, they would come and stand beside me until I turned off the computer. They paid attention to my digital footprints by checking my browsing history secretly. Besides surveillance, they taught me cyber safety every day. Their teaching is practical. For example, when there was a pop-up, they would ask my opinion about this ad: should you open it? Should you believe its content? However, they agreed to open the pop-up with me to see what would happen. I would know the pop-up was a scam after we saw the messy website behind the hyperlink. When my parents met online scams, they would also discuss them with me. For example, the fraud asked for money from my parents by sending them a message in my voice. My parents would show me that message at dinner and we exclaimed how rampant these frauds were. After that, they hypothesized by asking me what I would do if I got a similar message in their voices and asked for help. Learning from this real example, I said I would call my parents first and ask if they were safe. I should thank my parents for their ongoing open-heart conversations about cyber safety and sharing their experience of digital citizenship.

By far, I have never leaked my privacy. Although my family does not have a physical technology space to discuss digital citizenship and cyber safety, my parents have engaged me with these topics since I got in touch with the online world through informal and consistent discussions. To be honest, I fell into an online trap once. I managed to buy a cat online because my parents didn’t agree to buy one in the pet shop. The cat was shipped in a cage. It was not the one in the image; instead, it was dirty and fierce that it ate my lame pet rabbit. The seller refused to return the cat, and I didn’t have the heart to return it because it was a hard journey for the cat to be shipped back to the seller. As a result, I sent it back to nature. However, I lost money. This tragedy happened I had never met this circumstance before, and there were no prior conversations about this circumstance with my family.I think parents play more important roles than teachers in youngsters’ digital citizenship education because students tend to explore the digital world alone at home (ordinary people won’t browse 18+ websites publicly at schools, right?) Therefore, I summarize a few pieces of advice for parents about how to educate kids about the online world:

  • Hit up the young ages. Engage kids with the issues such as the importance of keeping privacy and the typical online scam types as early as possible.


  • Have ongoing, honest, and informal conversations about online safety with your family. Pay attention to the words “ongoing” and “informal” because real stories are compelling. Children will become resistant if you teach them online safety in an academic way. Believe me, because I was a child not long ago.


  • Release children’s rights of browsing websites gradually. Use this method with caution because some rebellious children will get upset. I recommend parents interested in this method begin intervening with kids as early as possible. Your kids will get used to your accompany if you have started it when they first touch digital devices. After they get enough education and experience in the online world, you can stop the accompany. The question here is that no one knows when the children are fully equipped. The only thing we can do is to observe our kids closely, and thus our topic backs to the last step: having ongoing, honest, and informal conversations with your family.
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