As you make decisions about your girl’s access to digital content and teach her about life in the digital sphere, help her remember that her online activity leaves a digital trail. As she travels that road, make sure her digital footprints create a path that leads in a positive direction with these four “rules of the road.”

computer mouse road sign

Click with care. Before you hit send, post, or any other button that will push your words and pics into the wide web world, pause first and think about the possible consequences.

caution sign

Be word-wise. Words and their meanings have a funny way of getting mixed up online. You meant to say one thing, and the next thing you know you’ve upset somebody. Read your words again before you send them on their way. Maybe use a clock and wait an hour. Or wait a whole day.

speedometer

Slow your sharing speed. If you post frequently, it’s hard to give enough thought to a picture or post before you send it out, increasing the chance of a misstep. Also, you risk overwhelming or annoying friends and family with too many posts. Make yourself read it again, and ask yourself if it’s really worth their time—and yours.

stop sign

Think about others. What you send, post, share, and comment on affects more than what people think about you. It affects your parents, siblings, and friends, too, when you make them the subject. Some things can be deleted, but they can’t be unseen by anyone who’s already read them. Don’t share anyone’s business but your own. 

Excerpted from A Smart Girl's Guide: Digital World by Carrie Anton. Illustrated by Stevie Lewis. American Girl Publishing, 2017. All rights reserved.