For children today, I’m sure the world seems smaller than it did to my generation.
I had pen pals in Africa and Europe – which felt like galaxies away!
Early access to technology means kids know more about the world, much younger. This can be a great thing. Understanding there are people who look, live, believe and act differently is wonderful for raising sensitive, compassionate, responsible kids.
But it can also be scary, like when kids hear about disease pandemics and natural disasters.
Teaching your children to become globally-minded digital citizens will help them react to world situations with wisdom and grow to be good thinkers and leaders.
Here’s five ways to do it.
Watch international news
Just watching the nightly local or state news can give you the impression that nothing happens beyond state borders. When kids are old enough, watch or read international news sources. Talk to your kids about the news and encourage them to question what they see and hear.
When they’re old enough, you could Introduce them to international YouTube channels like UNESCO or the Global Education First Initiative.
There’s nothing quite like experiencing another culture firsthand for learning about the world. If you take your children overseas, venture beyond the resort and tourist attractions to experience local life. When kids are old enough, they may be able to volunteer on a service trip.
Of course, international travel isn’t always possible, so you can look for creative ways to experience different cultures at home. For example, take your kids to see an Aboriginal art or dance exhibition, or Dreamtime storytelling at your local library. Visit food and cultural festivals in your area or eat at a variety of restaurants. Encourage your kids to talk with the people they meet.
You can also bring different cultures to you by hosting international students. Many schools offer opportunities for cultural exchange. Find out more about where your student is from and how they live, such as what an average day looks like, what they eat and how they travel.
Modern technology also means pen-pals are only a few clicks away. There are several websites and apps connecting kids from around the world. An internet search will help you find one that’s right for your child’s age.
Help them to discern fact from fiction
An important part of being a good global citizen is not propagating false, misleading or dangerous information. One downside of the digital environment is that anyone can post anything. This means interacting online means risking encounters with scams, hoaxes and predators.
Deciphering fact from fallacy can be hard enough for adults. For kids with limited life experience, it’s even tougher. Good internet security and filtering software are a great start. Teach your child about signs that could indicate something is dodgy.
Encourage them to think about what they see, hear or read and talk to you if anything seems suspicious.
Model good citizenship
Given parents are a child’s biggest influence, you’ll want to model global citizenship. You can do this by talking about issues like consumerism and over-consumption.
Some strategies to use at home include recycling, composting and minimising your water and power usage. Apps and software can help with this
When you go shopping, talk about things like ethical fashion choices and why some products are labelled Fairtrade.
Go global at home
There are lots of ways to introduce global flavours at home. Buy a globe or hang a world map on a wall. Read books set in different countries. Prepare food or drinks from other cultures. Listen to world music. The opportunities are only limited by your imagination!
Sophia Auld is the Editor of Australian Christian College’s blog. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Graduate Diploma of Divinity, and has been working on an MA in Writing and Literature. Sophia has been writing since 2015 across a range of industries. Two of her children completed online school through Australian Christian College. Sophia is known for her depth of research and accurate, evidence-based approach to writing. On the weekends you might find her scuba diving, bushwalking or hanging out with family. Sophia can be reached at [email protected].