VIRTUAL WORLDS

Virtual Worlds

A short excerpt from THE CARE & KEEPING OF US to share with your kids.

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These days, the word “friend” doesn’t just mean someone you hand out with face-to-face. “Friend” also refers to a person you know (or sort of know) virtually through social media. That means a “friend” can be a total stranger.

Many of the popular social media sites don’t allow kids under the age of 13. That’s because it takes maturity and smarts to understand how powerful social media is. It’s also about your personal data and privacy. What’s the big deal? It’s hard to grasp that words and pictures can be seen by millions of people—people you might not want knowing your thoughts and personal information, people who might not use that information about you in a good way. It’s also hard to realize that the instant something is posted, it’s out of your control forever. You can never take it back—not ever. So you need to learn how to think before you post.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself before posting:

  1. Would I want my mom or teacher or neighbor to see this online?
  2. Could this cause any kind of problem for me or my family, now or at any time in the future?
  3. Could someone figure out who I am or where I live if I post this?
  4. Would it be better to say this in a private message or an e-mail instead of making it public?

Write these questions down and post them on your computer screen. Memorize them. And ask them whenever you’re online and about to post!

THE CARE & KEEPING OF US, page 40, published and copyrighted 2015 by American Girl Publishing. Illustration by Josee Masse. All rights reserved.