The Best Ways to Teach Kids Internet Safety
Thank you, Google for allowing me to work you on this sponsored campaign to spread the word about Safer Internet Day on February 5, 2019. I am proud to be part of the Mom It Forward Influencer Network.
He shut the front door, kicked off his winter boots and plopped down on the couch with a heavy sigh. Everything seemed normal, except he wasn’t holding his cell phone. He didn’t stare at the small screen, he was looking at me.
This was big!
Our tween clearly wanted MY attention. I immediately dropped everything I was doing and sat down on the couch with him. These moments have been fleeting as of late.
I kept a neutral face, as much as possible. I knew to tread lightly and not push for information. A talkative tween is as shy as a hermit crab in a new shell. One rash move and he would pull into his shell, never to be seen again until after sunset.
“Mom, today was a good day. I got 100% on my math test.” (Insert lots of congratulatory celebrations and cheers.) And then he hit me with it. “Oh, something else cool happened today, mom. A girl asked for my number… and I gave it to her!”
If you are the parent of a tween or teen, you KNOW the importance of NOT freaking out when your kid shares monumental news… like being asked for their phone number for the first time!
Talking to Your Kids About Internet Safety:
Later that evening, when I went to kiss him goodnight and take his phone, as I do every day, we had a little talk about texting and internet safety.
We’ve had these talks before, because as you know, parenting isn’t a “one and done.” Parenting is finding new, relatable and creative ways to share messages, in hopes that eventually the information sinks in and becomes part of their internal dialog.
Over the years, we have talked to our kids about internet safety and we have great cell phone rules in place for our oldest son. As the kids get older, we need to reinforce those initial conversations.
The kids need to know that internet safety is as important now as it was when we first started talking about it.
Having one conversation isn’t good enough. Keeping an open line of communication and continuing to have age appropriate conversations as their internet use increases and curiosity changes is important.
This is why I was THRILLED when I heard about the Safer Internet Day celebrations that are taking place worldwide on February 5, 2019. Partnering with Google to share their message and tools to make the internet a safer place for our children is truly an honor.
Here’s how you can use the information to help educate your kids about internet safety and even spread the word in your community.
Tools to Teach Your Kids Internet Safety:
- Family Link app
- This app helps parents control their child’s internet access, manage their apps, find quality educational content, limit screen time, lock their devices for bedtime and even locate their child as long as they are carrying their device.
- The Family Link app is a great tool to help parents stick to their digital household rules about internet access, usage and screen time.
- Be Internet Awesome
- This invaluable curriculum can be used at home or in schools.
- Share the link to “Be Internet Awesome” with your child’s teacher or school administrator, which is exactly what I am planning on doing.
- The messaging in Be Internet Awesome is simple and easy for kids of all ages to comprehend:
- Be internet smart: share with care
- Be careful what and with whom you share information.
- Be internet alert: don’t fall for fake
- Learn to identify phishing emails and other internet scams.
- Be internet strong: secure your secrets
- Create unique passwords and change them regularly.
- Be internet kind: it’s cool to be kind
- Report cyber bullying, block mean and inappropriate people.
- Be internet brave: when in doubt, talk it out
- Speak up and stand up when you see inappropriate behavior. Report the incidents.
- Be internet smart: share with care
- Explore Interland
- After reviewing the curriculum for Be Internet Awesome, let your kids play “Interland.”
- It’s a family friendly computer game where the kids guide the Internauts through challenges, using the key message point they learned in the five chapters of how to Be Internet Awesome.
- The game is fun, engaging and captivated our kids’ attention for quite some time. Our kids range in age from 5 through 12.
On this February 5th, (or any day, really) start the conversation with your kids about internet safety, but remember, it’s not a one-way monolog. If you want your kids to truly embrace the message, make it a dialog. Ask them questions about their experiences, keep the information age-appropriate and have fun with it.
As I sat on our son’s bed that night, I wrapped my arms around him and snuck a quick chance to smell his hair. I can tell you, a tween’s hair does NOT have the sweet scent of a baby.
“Honey, now that you are texting someone, you have to remember never to write anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard outside of your school. Texts are not private and anything you send electronically can be saved, stored or otherwise shared with the rest of the world.”
His big hazel eyes looked up at me, as he said “I know, mom. Don’t worry, I remember all the things you told me last year when you gave me the phone. I will be careful. I promise. Thank you for teaching me these things.”
It may very well be 12 long years since he was my sweet newborn, but he will always be my sensitive, brilliant and empathetic child who needs reminders to floss his teeth – and guidance of how to be internet awesome, at least to calm my worries.
Don’t miss our post on cell phone rules to keep your tween safe in the outside world!