This content is sponsored by Forward Influence and Google. All opinions are my own.
When you get together with old friends you tend to reminisce about how it was ‘back in the old days’, and how that differs from what it’s like for kids today. Recently, I was speaking with a friend about kids being online this day in age. We have kids in the same age group and we both have similar viewpoints on what we allow in terms of online activities, with a few minor differences.
One thing that really stood out during our conversation was a comment she made regarding how kids can utilize social media without having to feel empathy or remorse.
I’m paraphrasing, but it went something like this:
“Kids can hide behind a screen. They cannot see the actual reaction of the person on the other end if they say hurtful things and make unkind remarks.
In the old days, if someone wanted to be mean to someone else they had to do it right to their face. They had to see the expression on the other person’s face and how much hurt it caused them. They had to feel empathy, or not. But they had to be a witness to it and be a part of the reaction.
With social media that is gone. You can make a remark and have no concept of what happens to the person on the other end of that. There is no empathy — and I fear we are losing that overall as a society.” –when speaking on how bullies have a new way of tormenting other kids.
Her comment got me thinking, and I realized she is so right. Unless kids are aware of how their words have real-world consequences we may lose that sense of empathy. The good news is that Google has a free program designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety!
Be Internet Awesome has five areas of Internet Awesomeness:
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 it’s cool to be kind
BRAVE: Where we learn that, when in doubt, we talk it out
While I’ve had these conversations with my kids in the past, I think it is something that should be a continuous discussion and the conversation should not stop after speaking to your kids once.
As kids get older they will continue to face new and different challenges when it comes to the online space, and as parents, it is our job to help them understand both the dangers and the responsibilities that come with the privilege of being online.
Playing Interland – Learning To Be Kind Online
Interland is part of Google’s Be Internet Awesome program and is a fun, interactive game kids can play while they are learning about the five areas of Internet Awesomeness. I had my kids play Interland while using the corresponding Digital Safety and Citizenship Curriculum to have some important discussions with my kids.
While they like to roll their eyes at me and tell me they know everything already, I am not going to stop reminding them of the dangers of being online, while also making sure they are kind to others themselves. It is so important to me that I raise respectful young adults who help spread kindness wherever they go, including online.
If you want your family to Be Internet Awesome, be sure to have conversations with your family about how to be Upstanders and promote positivity at home, school, and online.
What Can You Do?
- Play Interland with your kids and put your kindness skills to the test at g.co/KindKingdom
- Learn more about how to Be Internet Awesome at g.co/BeInternetAwesome and tell your kids’ teachers about the online curriculum so they can introduce these activities in the classroom.