This post is sponsored by Google and written in partnership with Forward Influence
This week, Google hosted it’s Be Internet Awesome event in celebration of Safer Internet Day. I jumped at the opportunity to attend and learn more about the efforts being made to ensure that conversations about online safety are happening not just at school between students and teachers, but at home between parents and their children, too.
As an entrepreneur in the tech world and a mother of four, I’m definitely in tune with the need to keep our kids safe online. I’m sure we’ve all heard stories––or maybe even have experienced them firsthand. As incredible as the Internet is in this modern day and age, it’s naive to ignore the fact that not everyone is using it with good intentions. The good news is that there are a number of basic things we can teach our children to help ensure their safety online.
My Experience With Learning to Use the Internet
Like many of us who didn’t grow up in the world of social media and the Internet, I didn’t really have any discussions with my parents about online safety as the internet became a bigger part of everyday life. I remember staying up late in chatrooms at a friend’s house before I had Internet access at my house (I can still remember the screeching sounds of AOL dialup). We even made plans to meet with a couple friends we made online at the movies. Somehow we had the wherewithal to know to make plans to meet in a public spot. Fortunately they were who they said they were––we scoped them out from afar and were actually the original ghosters and chickened out on saying hi.
I didn’t start using social media until I was in college, and started using it all little by little. Figuring out how to introduce my kids to it (if and when), is murky at best. There are no hard and fast rules (other than the minimum age each social media platform requires it’s users to be). And as much as I’d like to keep my kids away from the unknown dangers of the Internet for as long as possible, putting our heads in the sand and not teaching them to use it responsibly won’t help in the long run, either.
In a 2018 survey, Google found that 39.1% of kids had seen inappropriate content online, and 23.8% of kids had overshared information on social media. Email scams and cyberbullying are other areas of concern in protecting our kids online, too. And when 55% of kids have their own smartphone or table, chances are your kid has experienced something along these lines, too.
5 Pillars of How to Be Internet Awesome
Here’s what I learned with Google in celebrating Safer Internet Day
1. Be Internet Smart––This includes tips like thinking before you post content online, protecting private information like your address and passwords, and being a positive presence online.
2. Be Internet Alert––This includes learning how to identify secure sites, identifying potential spam links, and telling a trusted adult when something seems suspect.
3. Be Internet Strong––The primary focus here is on creating strong passwords that don’t include personal information, and using different passwords for different accounts
4. Be Internet Kind––The overall idea here is to follow the golden rule in how you treat people online (and in real life), and how to be an upstander when kids see others being unkind online.
5. Be Internet Brave––This includes knowing when and how to report or block inappropriate content––including obtaining proof before you take action.
Resources for Parents
There are a number of resources available for parents to both learn about keep our kids safe online, in addition to teaching our kids about internet safety.
- You can come together for in creating a better Internet with your family by using Google’s Be Internet Awesome tools, including their new Family Guide.
- After discussing the pillars of Internet safety, you can have your kids put their skills to the test with Google’s online game, Interland, where they can combat hackers, phishers, oversharers and bullies by practicing the skills they need to be good digital citizens.
Encourage your child’s school to come together for a better Internet by sharing Be Internet Awesome with their teachers.
The Biggest Takeaway
My biggest takeaway from learning more about Safer Internet Day is that we need to have conversations with our kids about online safety everyday. Not in a didactic, wag your finger way, but in a way that just makes it a normal everyday conversation. How do you create conversations with your kids about using the Internet safely?