While the full benefits of homeschooling are still being studied, the numbers so far are quite clear – statistically, homeschooled students score above average on tests when compared to their publicly educated peershomeschooled students score above average on tests when compared to their publicly educated peers. In the old days, homeschooling might have consisted of little more than a few textbooks and some plans written up by a parent. That’s mostly passed, though, in favor of using the internet for researching topics and providing children with access to more information about literally every topic they study.
By necessity, this new form of education requires giving children more access to technology, and often allowing them to use it more than children who sit in classrooms are allowed to.
That’s not inherently bad, but it does bring up an important question: How are we going to keep our children safe when they’re using the internet? From cyberbullying to child predators, there are plenty of threats to students lurking in the digital realm, and we can’t expect them to handle all of these on their own.
How can we help our kids?
The best way to help kids is to start putting limits on their ability to use the internet. Now, these limits come in several forms, and not all of them need to be permanent – in fact, most limits can be removed once your child has demonstrated that they deserve to be trusted with more responsibility.
First, start tracking their smartphone (and any other electronic device they’re using). Teens should never be allowed to think that the internet is a place where they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, with no supervision of any kind. Such thoughts usually result in a focus on whatever is ‘fun’, often to the detriment of their studies.
Second, start thinking of their internet use as another part of their education. We may often feel like children have a magical mastery of the digital world that far outstrips our own, but the truth is that most of them don’t actually understand ideas like long-term consequences from posting certain sorts of messages. Instead of leaving it entirely up to them, teach them the right way to use the internet.
Finally, consider these twenty tips for digital safety. It’s all right to be restrictive at first – the problems with social permanence mean that it’s best to start with a lot of restrictions and slowly open up over time. Teens may be a bit upset at first, but as long as you emphasize their safety and the fact that they can earn more freedoms, most will quickly agree to your plans.