Building Confidence in Kids Through Tech

Desiree Devoreaux

July 10, 2024

With the rapid advancement of technology, so much has changed since our childhoods. There are so many experiences that our kids will face that we as parents simply never knew about when we were growing up - these days, everything is a touch screen. So how can we guide our children to navigate the internet safely?

We should teach our children how to be confident internet users who are excited to interact with the internet, in whatever capacity we as parents deem to be age appropriate. Confident kids have guided autonomy, a strong understanding of how the internet works, and a set of tools to identify and combat dangerous situations. They understand the realities of social media, and what it means to share their information with the world.

Confident kids means empowerment and guidance

Much like any other life lesson, teaching your kids how to be confident on the internet starts with parents. We should model the behavior we want to see in our kids, and using the internet is no different. Teaching our kids some basic lessons regarding the internet will set them on a positive, empowered path while keeping them safe.

Giving your child the appropriate tools to handle themselves online is also crucial. Setting your kids up for success by applying applicable parental controls is the first step in this process. Apps like Hello Wonder recognize the importance of this critical first step, and incorporate it in the setup process after app installation. Next, kids need to learn the appropriate reporting tools for all of the apps that they have access to, and when and how to block individuals is a key step. Finally, when to tell a trusted adult about an issue or concern of theirs is a huge part of the learning process. 

Give your kids the autonomy they need 

Kids love the power of choice at pretty much any age. Give them a choice, and they are more likely to be interested in the options themselves, take a more active role in the activity related to the choices, and have a more positive outlook on the outcome of their decision. 

Ask your kids from a young age if they have a preference about which photos or information about them are posted on the internet. This gives them two important strengths. 

  1. It allows them to become aware of having to make decisions about what is allowed to be on the internet about them. The internet is vast and contains the good, the bad, and the very ugly.  It can be tough to fully understand, especially for young minds. However, introducing this concept at an early age adds to the foundation of confident internet users.

  1. If kids are allowed to express what they do and don’t want posted on the internet with their parents, they will be more comfortable letting family, and more importantly their friends, know what is and isn’t ok to post about them. Learning this necessary life skill leads to a sense of self and a higher self esteem, both of which are so important to our kids. 

The internet is forever

Kids also need to learn the permanence of the internet. What is posted today will be online 10 years from now. Teaching  them about this is crucial to both their safety and general internet knowledge. Kids need to be made aware that even if they remove a post, it may still be recoverable by someone else.

Also, just because a post was made to one particular website, that doesn’t limit the post to that one website. Information can be shared across multiple sites, often with no recourse available to the original poster. Claiming ownership of internet posts can be very difficult, if not impossible, to prove, so mindfulness when posting is essential when participating on the internet. 

Watch out for those tricky traps

Every parent wants their child to be safe at all times, and using the internet is no different. There are a host of ways kids can get themselves into sticky situations online, each of these carrying varying consequences. 

Issues such as cyberbullying, malware, accessing inappropriate content or even identity theft are all problems that children can face today. These can all have long lasting effects that an inexperienced child may not be able to perceive or know how to discuss. 

Have conversations about these potential pitfalls, and their consequences, before your kids encounter them online. This decreases the likelihood that a child will engage in unwanted behaviors,  strengthens a child’s ability to choose healthy online activities, and empowers them to discuss uncomfortable situations with you.  

Social media often distorts reality

We live in  a world where glitz and glam is highly popularized. With millions of accounts available to follow on social media platforms, it can be easy for kids to lose sight of reality, particularly regarding physical appearance and desired personality traits. 

Parents should discuss with their kids that social media may not always be a reflection of reality, and should be viewed as entertainment, not life guiding principles. Just because an influencer is all smiles and giggles in front of the camera, their personal life may not be as it seems. 

Encouraging positive photo sharing

Photoshopped images have become so commonplace, it can be difficult even for experts to spot the edits. Having conversations about the differences in what a healthy body can look like, and healthy life habits can help kids gain confidence in themselves. 

If your child is already using social media, ask them how they felt in a particular photo, and if they react in a positive way, encourage them to post that photo, regardless of how others may perceive it. Teaching them resilience in the face of online negativity, and to rely on themselves for how they feel about their online and offline identity is a big step in building self esteem. 

It’s all about guidance

Encouraging a variety of hobbies, skill sets, and opportunities to participate in family events or cultural activities also increases self esteem in kids, and creates kids who are more confident both online and offline. With apps like Hello Wonder, kids are exposed to a wide variety of content that is both interesting and mentally nutritious. They are guided along on their internet journey by their own AI companion Wonder, whose guidance has direction from  the parent via parental controls, so both the app and the parents are in full alignment. 

The internet can be a scary and daunting place for both children and adults, but taking small steps such as those listed above to build and boost our kids' confidence is a great way to get kids off to a healthy start.