Earlier this week I headed down to beautiful San Antonio, Texas for an event that was like no other.
This wasn’t a quick trip to spend time exploring the Alamo or enjoying the foodie’s paradise that the Riverwalk offers. This was for Safer Internet Day 2019, where I learned about Be Internet Awesome, and where Google announced the release of crucial kids online safety resources for both kids and parents. You will find those resources here – a must for parents!
(The event and this post are sponsored.)
Google’s Be Internet Awesome
I’m the mom of a middle schooler. One who recently got her very first smartphone, has had a school-issued iPad since she was 9 years old, and must use the internet for school projects almost daily.
My life is social media. My business even has it in the title – “social media influencer”. I see firsthand the good and the bad on the internet. I see many adult friends struggle with online safety, so you can imagine how concerned I am as a mom treading into this area.
Do you feel the same?
Google understands that. In fact, Google has a division called “Google for Education” and I am impressed by all they have to offer. Today I’m going to share a little bit about what I learned in San Antonio, but more importantly, I’m going to give you the resources you need to come together for a better internet with your family.
TIP: Read on for Google’s crucial online safety resources for kids and parents (downloadable).
An Open Discussion Among Parents, Educators, and Experts
When I first arrived in San Antonio, I listened as a panel welcomed us and spoke openly about how families can be safer and smarter online.
Panelists were from the Family Online Safety Institute, David’s Legacy Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club, National PTA and Google.
It was eye-opening and one thing stood out – it’s never too young to start talking about online safety with your kids. I had to agree. So many elementary schools are requiring online use in early grades, often before parents have taken the time to talk about dangers.
One thing surprised me though.
It was clear many parents struggle with saying “NO” to their child in regards to owning a smartphone, when “all” the child’s friends have them. I guess I’m in the minority here. I don’t hesitate in saying no. I never have a problem doing that. I look at the big picture. My daughter didn’t need a phone in elementary school because most of her time outside of school was spent with her parents. That all changed in middle school.
The phone provides security in some respects. In other respects, danger. So we tread lightly and slowly. She has a phone, but no social media. But that doesn’t mean the dangers aren’t there. It’s a smartphone after all.
What I learned while in San Antonio helped me up my game as a parent. The resources they’ve provided since have made it even easier for me TO PARENT. I’m grateful.
5 Pillars of Internet Awesome
After the panel discussion, we were able to witness first hand school children going through the Google Be Internet Awesome pop up experience for kids. It was in town for just a few days and children from schools visited in addition to members of the public. If one comes to your town – GO!
Be Internet Awesome focused on 5 Pillars of Internet Awesome:
- Smart – Share with Care
- Alert – Don’t Fall for Fake
- Strong – Secure your Secrets
- Kind – It’s Cool to Be Kind
- Brave – When in Doubt, Talk it Out
It’s these 5 areas that are important to focus on with kids (and dare I say adults)!
Each of the five areas had interactive games which educated the kids (while having fun) about online safety.
It was thorough and had me wishing I had taken my daughter out of school.
Google’s Be Internet Awesome Resources
I may not have taken my daughter out of school, but thanks to Google, I have access (and you do too) to the many resources they provide, including some new this week!
Visit Be Internet Awesome Families for a downloadable Family Guide.
Here you will find sections on each of the 5 pillars. The sections contain vocabulary terms, goals, and family activities (ex. various scenarios to talk through what your kids would do in certain situations, or create a strong password together).
The Family Guide is available in both English and Spanish.
Yes, I mentioned that I believe these resources will help adults themselves. I see so many acquaintances post personal photos that show their home address or name of their child’s school. Oftentimes these same adults don’t have any privacy settings. That means the entire world has access to what they post. So yes, I believe these important resources are for everyone as a helpful reminder of what can be a danger.
Kids can play Interland, a playful online game that makes learning about digital safety and citizenship interactive and fun. Here, kids will help their fellow Internauts combat the badly behaved hackers, phishers, oversharers and bullies by practicing the skills they need to be good digital citizens.
Please, take advantage of these resources and talk to your kids, your spouse, your extended family.
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