6 Ways Families Can Work Together to Be Internet Awesome on Safer Internet Day

This Safer Internet Day post is sponsored by Google

It’s the first email I see in the morning as I open my inbox. It’s from an individual whose tone tends to range from passive aggressive to hostile. I take a deep breath and click to open it, not knowing if it will elicit an eyeroll or something worse. I’ve confronted this person about the tone of their emails before, suggesting those on the receiving end are more receptive to kindness. As I read another email that makes me bristle, I know my recommendation has fallen on deaf ears. I wish this adult could understand that it’s cool to be kind especially today, on Safer Internet Day as we come together for a better internet.

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

From cyberbullying to social networking, Safer Internet Day has aimed to raise awareness of emerging online issues since 2004 and each year, a topic is chosen to reflect current concerns. This year’s campaign slogan, “Together for a better internet,” serves as a call to action forus to join together and play a part in creating a better internet for everyone, but especially for younger users.

In order to create healthy, productive online spaces for our kids to interact, Google has created Be Internet Awesome to equip parents with tools and information that can help us be safer online and better manage our family’s technology use.

Google Be Internet Awesome

This multifaceted program is designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety through these 5 areas of internet awesomeness so they can explore the online world with confidence:

  • SMART: Where we learn to share with care
  • ALERT: Where we learn not to fall for fake
  • STRONG: Where we learn how to secure our digital stuff
  • KIND: Where we learn that itʼs cool to be kind
  • BRAVE: Where we learn that, when in doubt, we talk it out

6 Ways to Work Together to Be Internet Awesome on Safer Internet Day and Beyond

In honor of today being Safer Internet Day, here are 6 tips for working with your kids to be internet awesome today and always.

Model the Behavior You Expect

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As parents, it’s important to model the behavior we expect from our kids both in person and also online. We set the tone through our interactions with them and those around us. Reinforcing kindness matters because when we work together for a better internet, everyone wins! To keep your family accountable, you can download the free Be Internet Awesome pledge, review it, have everyone sign it, and tape it to your fridge.

Encourage Reflection

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Google’s Be Internet Awesome curriculum encourages tweens to reflect on the way the adults around them are acting. Reflection forces kids to pause before reacting and this tiny bit of think time aids them in making better decisions about what to say and how to deliver it.

Since they’re a part of the generation that will further define the digital world, the way they treat each other in real life and the online world matters. Reinforcing the importance of pausing, reflecting, and using words in a positive way to express ourselves, whether in person or via electronic communication is important!

Work to Redirect Negative Interactions into Positive Ones

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Kids of all ages are exposed to online and offline behaviors with negative messages that promote bad behavior. While it’s always helpful to have a teachable moment to spark a conversation about what you might do differently, Be Internet Awesome It’s Cool to be Kind curriculum great scenarios that are perfect for families to reframe negative interactions and interactions into positive ones.

It’s Cool to Be Kind: Activity 3 …but say it nicely! (page 55) emphasizes the importance of reframing negative comments and provides eight examples that challenge kids to turn them into positive and constructive statements. This impactful activity helps kids stop and think to better understand the power of their words to combat bullying. What they might not deem as negative could be perceived in a different way. The ability to express feelings and opinions in positive, effective ways, and respond to negativity in constructive and civil ways, are important lessons in kindness. 

Teach Why It’s Important to Be an Upstander

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It would have been really easy for me not to say anything to the sender of those emails but instead of being a bystander, I chose to be an upstander. I decided to take a negative situation and put some positive learning behind it. Even though my suggestion of adding kindness seemed to be ignored, at least I spoke up. 

Often our kids feel uncomfortable with what’s going on around them, yet they don’t feel comfortable standing up for themselves or their peers. Instead of being uneasy with what’s going on around them, our kids need to know they have the power to be upstanders and change the conversation. Empowering our tweens as upstanders encourages them to take the high road and stand up for the things they know in their hearts aren’t ok. Here are my tips for teaching your tween to be an upstander.

Continue the Conversation

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Working together to create a safer internet doesn’t happen in a day. It’s a continuous process that involves ongoing conversations to raise young digital citizens who behave in a safe way throughout the year.

Google’s free materials provide talking points for family discussions and activities that help you create a strong foundation for your kids’ safe, successful use of the Internet. Conversation starters inspired by It’s Cool to Be Kind: Activity 5 Walking the Walk (page 59) can be used with your tween to help them reflect on the behavior of adults in their lives and make good choices. You can also access Google’s free family guide and tips at g.co/BeInternetAwesomeFamilies.

Reinforce Learning Through Online Game Play

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Learning through play is one of the most effective ways for kids of any age to demonstrate their knowledge in a fun way and Interland does just that. Interland is a free, web-based game by Google that makes learning about digital citizenship a fun, engaging and hands-on experience. This online adventure puts key lessons of digital safety into hands-on practice with four challenging games where kids are asked various questions about real world scenarios that they could encounter. For a deeper look into each of four games, how to play, and the questions that are asked in each game that helps reinforce important lessons about digital citizenship, visit my post: How Kids Can Play Their Way Through Interland to Learn Digital Citizenship

The It’s Cool to Be Kind curriculum is available for free from Google’s Be Internet Awesome and  available in English and Spanish. Teachers will love that it includes ISTE standard aligned classroom and ready-made Pear Decks to teach each lesson. Adventure packed online game, Interland, gives kids the opportunity to practice decision making around bullying scenarios and reinforces digital safety and citizenship. The family guide is perfect for reinforce important learning around creating a better internet beyond the school day and into year-round learning.

For more information, about Be Internet Awesome by Google:

For more tips on working with your kids to be internet awesome today and always, check out my past posts featuring Google Be Internet Awesome:

This post is sponsored by Google and Be Internet Awesome but all opinions are my own.