The internet can be a wonderful place where we shop, research, watch movies, play games and interact with the world but it can also be a very dark place full of mean people. Chat rooms, Facebook groups and countless other avenues accessible online have become a safe haven for people to hide behind their keyboard and bully others and spread hate. Since October is National Bullying Prevention Month we wanted to provide you with ways you can teach your kids it’s cool to be kind online so they can help stop this bullying behavior and so the internet can be a healthy, productive space for us all.
Teach Kids The Golden Rule
We all know that the Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated, but do your kids know that? From a very young age this age-old principle will do your kids well if they learn and apply it in their lives. Good-ole cyberspace is no exception so teach your kids how to act appropriately online. Decide as a family what kinds of actions and behavior toward others are important and how that looks in digital forms: texts, posts, comments, photos, videos, etc. Talk about what being positive and kind means to you and let your kids express their thoughts as well. Practicing respect, kindness and positivity within the family circle, then online, is a great place to start.
Teach Kids by Example
Your kids are watching everything you do and say. My oldest daughter recited something back to me word for word that she heard me say on the phone a week earlier, I had no idea she was listening. Be kind at all times, online or not, in front of your kids because believe me they are watching and learning by your example! They think the world of you so if you are an upstander (person who knows what’s happening is wrong and does something to make things right) then they will want to be one too!
Teach Kids to Respond
As a parent one of the most important things I can do is teach my kids how to respond to bullying behavior and negativity online. Most of the time your kids don’t know how to respond to situations presented to them and they need help developing digital and social skills. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the family unit when it comes to teaching kids how to respond to drama and cyberbullying! A great tool to help you do this is Google’s free multifaceted program, Be Internet Awesome.
It’s cool to be kind Online
Be Internet Awesome is designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety. The program is available in English and Spanish and consists of an ISTE standards aligned curriculum, ready-made Pear Decks for each lesson, Interland – an adventure-packed online game about digital safety and citizenship – and plenty of resources for educators and parents.
Through BIA students and families will learn how to make choices that stop online bullies dead in their tracks and how they can do their part to make the internet a safer kinder place. My kids and I had a blast playing the Interland games because the activities are fun and they kept the open-hearted discussions going. I encourage you to check out Interland and put your kindness to the test! Play some games with your kids and just have some fun while you all learn together that is is cool to be kind online!