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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Teaching our kids to curate

5/16/2013 6:00:00 AM

These days, most parents have a basic understanding of the digital world that surrounds their kids. Whether they’re toddlers, second graders or middle schoolers, kids are learning to embrace their exciting new environment at lightning speeds.

Even those of us who consider ourselves “tech savvy” still marvel at the ease with which even very young kids take to touch screens, mobile devices and online resources. How do they instinctively know when to swipe, pinch or zoom? Gestures that have to be learned by adults are intuitive to our kids.

But in the Internet age, we still have one important skill to teach our kids: how to be discerning. The sheer volume of information that is available to us through the Web means that we have to develop filters to identify fact from fiction, good from not-so-good, truth from opinion. The ability to curate, which was formerly the exclusive domain of museums and art galleries, is now a hugely important talent for our kids.

So how do we go about teaching our kids this digital age skill? There are some everyday tasks that kids engage in that can become useful training grounds:

1. Curate your friends

From Club Penguin to Facebook, kids are engaging each other on social networks. Even with all the protections in place to prevent them sharing personal information, they tend to “friend” people they don’t know in real life. If you can teach them to be discerning about who they meet online, it’s easier to teach them to be more skeptical about the information they come across as well.

2. Curate resources

At my daughter’s middle school, the head of technology demonstrated to kids and parents how Wikipedia can be manipulated to provide inaccurate information. Schools can be an enormous help in teaching your kids how to curate sites and know which ones to trust for the information they need.

3. Curate images

Kids can take hundreds of pictures with their smartphones and cameras but are not very good at deleting those that don’t make the grade. Cleaning up an overloaded photo cache can be an important lesson in choosing quality over quantity. (And good training for curating family memories later in life.)

4. Curate links and content

Teaching kids which links to open and which ones to avoid can thwart phishing attacks and other malware threats, and is an important step in safeguarding personal information. And knowing when to ignore links will allow them to better focus on their school work and other priorities!

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