For years I’ve been writing and talking about the potential pitfalls that the online world harbors, sharing ways to Be Safe in Cyberspace’.  So it may come as a relief to know that there numerous ways of using the power of the Internet positively and to our advantage. And today, I’d like to share how parents could take an active role in helping their teens to use internet to empower themselves.

Preventing children from going online and opening social media accounts will not keep them safe on the Internet. While social media can be so addictive that one could spend hours on it without really noticing, at times it could also enable one to contribute in healthy discussions, since it’s a quick source of news and information. If we are disciplined enough to keep our social media usage in check, we could use this powerful tool enrich ourselves with great learning experiences and upgrade our lives.

Here are Five ‘Es’ of using the Internet to create a positive impact and  benefits from the many productive, interesting, personally enriching, and economically rewarding things you can do on the internet.

Education and Learning

This may be obvious to some. However, many would be surprised to know that we can actually go online, learn a new skill or discipline, or expand on earlier knowledge, and get certified for FREE. One can even use this magical tool to get free online studies with Ivy League schools like Harvard and MIT.

 e learning

Netizens can pursue online courses to improve their writingcommunication or marketing skills. Sites like Coursera, Edx and Udemy offer MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on a wide range of subjects from history to programming, from building an ecommerce site to playing guitar to photography. Students can learn from renowned professors and subject experts, within a large online community and receive a world class education, while sitting in the comfort of their homes. 

Enhancing Reputation

Recruiters and college admission officers rely on online information about prospective students, before they interview them. If they find inappropriate content or images published on social media or blogs relating to them, it could mean their application might instantly get rejected. Surprisingly, a lack of online presence can be equally damaging because candidates may get discounted for not showing an active interest in their chosen field. What does it say about a candidate who claims to be interested in online marketing, but has no presence online? 

Thus, it is important for young people to create an online image, which reflects who they are and portrays their interests, hobbies and experiences. Parents must encourage them to set up social media across platforms such as Linkedin, Twitter and Google +. You could assist them in purchasing their own domain name and support them to create a personal blog. In any scenario, their social media posts and images or comments uploaded online should be ones that they would want a potential university admission officer to see. Advise them to refrain from using unwanted tags on unsuitable posts or pics. 

Exploring Creative Ideas – Young people who are interested in music, writing, cooking or art can find loads of useful resources and ways to practice online. From starting a blog to following your favourite artists online, the internet can be a great platform for young aspiring creatives to get started.

Earning Online It is now possible to earn online through writing, filling up forms, or even just clicking away on online advertisements. In today’s digital world, information is a valuable thing that people are willing to pay for. Online advertisements and digital marketing are becoming more and more instrumental in increasing sales. Manufacturers and sellers see this as a great opportunity. In addition to this, many companies now allow employees to work remotely, which is great because a student can pursue an internship or work from home without the hassle of commuting.

Exchange of Ideas – With the advent of the Internet, interchange of ideas and knowledge among scientists, university professors, and students, globally, is reality. In addition, resource centers and online tools provide a medium for research and scholar activities. Moreover, digitalization has made it possible for millions of books, journals and other material to be readily available in the public domain. This has enabled people to learn a plethora of new things, in just a few clicks.

I would like to sum it up in the words of teen blogger, Patrick Mott – “Our social networks can tell a story about us and, if you’re like me, you would want to make sure that the story your Twitter or Facebook tells about you is a good story.”