In the words of Bill Gates “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” The Internet, today, is no longer an accessory but an essential tool in our lives. While we adults depend on it for accessing information, booking appointments and indulging in some retail therapy, our school-going children use it for academic and social reasons.
To put together a good assignment, the ability to research online for relevant data is an essential skill. This way, your child not only learns how to think independently but can also winnow out unreliable data and find reliable information.
How to teach effective ways to research online
Here are some ways you can help your child research online effectively:
- Know the domains: Teach your child about the different domains. He can identify the domain that he visits by looking at how the domain site’s address ends. ‘edu’ is used for educational sites, ‘com’ for commercial sites and ‘org’ for websites of organisations. Knowing the domain name will help him ascertain the kind of information he seeks and whether it’s apt.
- Recognise the resources: It is important that your child gathers her knowledge from relevant, authentic and accurate sources. She should rely on sources such as up-to-date encyclopedias, a good thesaurus, a few dictionaries and current world news sites.
- Avoid ambiguity: Referencing from too many sources or relying solely on a single resource can affect the credibility of your child’s work. Also, he can come across as being ambiguous or insincere if he doesn’t have an original point of view. Teach him to gather information to form educated opinions and not to copy and paste what others have said.
- Use the asterisk (*): This little character can save your child a lot of time and effort. Adding an asterisk at the end of the search line will filter out and deliver only relevant information related to the search.
- Opt for the best domain: To visit the best and most credible domain, after your child has keyed in the topic he wishes to search, he needs to type ‘site’ in the search box, followed by a colon (:) and a domain. This will narrow down and speed up his search.
- Pick the right news: Mentioning current events or updated data will make your child’s reports more credible. But, ensure that she understands the difference between real and fake news. Also, historical facts can turn out to be nonsense unless she tunes in to the right sources. Make a list of reliable sites for news and historical data and help her download these links for future use.
- Define time periods: Having a ‘custom-range’ to find information and using the ‘advanced search’ option can help your child obtain recent and detailed facts. The key to a good assignment is to avoid outdated information and generic searches.
- Navigate using different search engines: Get your child familiarised with various search engines. Depending on the topic she researches, she can opt for scholarly or popular engines. This is a huge time-saver.
- Use instructions and reminders: Make a list of instructions for your child to follow. Especially when he is new to browsing the Internet, this list will be of great value. Also, put up some reminders near his computer, so that he keeps to the schedules and rules you lay down.
- Cite the site: Your child must understand the implications of plagiarism and that citations are a legal and academic requirement. So, make sure she knows how important it is to credit the source. Show her how to copy and paste the addresses of the websites she refers to. Also, teach her how to link data to relevant websites, whenever needed.
How to browse the Net safely
That said, the most essential role you play in your child’s journey through cyberspace is to guide him through it safely. Cybercrimes range from cyber-bullying to pornography. Here are some ways to stay in-the-know of your child’s Internet escapades:
- Talk to your child about various online problems she may come across and that you’ll always be there to listen in case she finds herself in some trouble.
- Children are curious by nature. So, don’t go too hard on your child if he strays from your directions. Be firm but encourage exploration as long as he does it on safe territory.
- Use the privacy settings to benefit your child’s Internet activities. Permit only trusted acquaintances to have online access to her.
- Join forces with him and show your involvement in his projects. Brainstorming with you will help achieve higher goals.
- Talk about her online reputation. She should only post things online, that she would like you, her teacher or a future employer to see.
- Remind him of how important it is not to give in to peer-pressure that goads him into posting inappropriate comments or images.
Good online research skills are a boon not just for your child’s academics but will also help her in her future career. The more you develop your insights of effective online research, the more you can guide her in having exceptional online skills. Happy browsing to you!
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