Mom and Dad, do you know when to start talking to your kids about internet safety? Google’s new Be Internet Awesome program might just be the perfect topic to start off that conversation.
Launched this National Internet Safety Month, Be Internet Awesome aims to teach kids to explore the internet safely, smartly, and confidently. This campaign is a collaborative effort of Google with online safety experts from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (or iKeepSafe), ConnectSafely, and several YouTube vloggers—who happen to include The Fault in Our Stars author, John Green—for an ongoing video series.
Be Internet Awesome has resources for parents and teachers and an educational video game for kids called Interland. This program is also compliant with the standards set by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Be Internet Awesome drives home these five key lessons for kids to learn and practice while online:
- Be Internet SMART: Share with care. And this goes beyond privacy. This means thinking thrice before saying something while also considering whom we’re going to say it to, just like in a face-to-face conversation. We don’t spill the beans to people we just met or hardly know, right? If one thinks something isn’t right to say, then it isn’t right to post either.
- Be Internet ALERT: Don’t fall for fake. Oftentimes, we remind ourselves that not everything we see online is real; and this is something we must teach our kids, too. Being able to tell which is which is a learned skill. Awareness is key.
- Be Internet STRONG: Secure your secrets. Personal journals of old were not only hidden under false drawers; they were also sealed with a little lock and key. With this picture of security in mind, kids should treat their most prized possession—their personal information and credentials—the same way as these journals.
- Be Internet KIND: It’s cool to be kind. Online bullying is one of the many challenges that kids may come across every day. It’s high time that they are reminded to treat people online the way they want to be treated. The internet can be a place for positivity to grow, too!
- Be Internet BRAVE: When in doubt, talk it out. Children must be encouraged to raise questions regarding content or behavior they see online. In response, adults must support their children’s curiosity by listening and understanding without judgment. This does not only foster open communication between adult and child but also builds trust toward the adult and confidence in the child.
Although Be Internet Awesome primarily targets young children between the ages of 8 and 11, anyone can use the program’s materials to learn to make smart decisions online. Even Mom and Dad.
Talks about Internet safety don’t have to be technical and boring. It can be creative and enjoyable, too. Regardless of how it is presented to the next generation, what’s really important is to get them involved in internet security and privacy by starting that conversation, and we continue to talk about these with them.
Safe surfing, everyone!