Tech Tuesday: Safer Internet Week 2020

Parenting is hard, right? But digital parenting? Forgetaboutit

Every time I learn a new tip or trick about social media, like how to hide my IG stories from certain people,  I’m psyched for a whole 2 minutes until I realize that my kids could someday learn this trick as well.

Perhaps they already have.

It’s this double side to social media and the Internet that has me constantly going back and forth between these things being the best inventions EVER or the things that are going to cause some irreparable harm to my kids and family.

With this week being Safer Internet Week, I partnered with Google to bring awareness to Internet safety and the importance of having the “Tech Talk.” It gave me the perfect opportunity to chat with my family about how we might become safer, smarter, and kinder navigators of the Internet.

Internet Safety For All Ages

I get asked all the time what age is appropriate to give your kid Internet access or social media accounts and my response is always the same. It’s a personal choice and one that you need to make based on the age and maturity level of your child.

Thankfully, Anisten and Emery aren’t obsessed with social media or being online 24/7 but as many of your know, Emery recently created her first social media account. And with my oldest being on social media and my youngest utilizing apps, I knew it was important to have this talk with all of my kids. Because, at the end of the day, I want my kids to love the Internet as much as I do!

We sat down on Sunday and went over a few of the things that we felt were most important for our family. We also referenced Be Internet Awesome, Google’s online guide to Internet safety and the 5 pillars of Internet Awesomeness which are:

There are so many incredible resources from Google and we found that the pillars helped guide the conversation and tailor it to all of our kids and their ages. These pillars were developed by Google and its partners:

  • The Internet Keep Safe Coalition
  • ConnectSafely
  • The Family Online Safety Institute

Each pillar is broken down (make sure you check out the Be Internet Awesome Family Guide) into digestible bullet points, definitions, goals, family activities to illustrate each point, and an online adventure called Interland that gives your kids hands-on practice!

Our Family Goals

As we discussed each pillar, there were some points that we wanted our kids (especially our older ones) to really pay attention to and be mindful of. While your family might be different depending on your kid’s ages or interests, I thought I’d share some of the biggies that stood out to us!

  1. Be A Positive Presence Online Just Like IRL (in real life).

    • With my job, I come across my fair share of Internet bullies. And my girls have seen this firsthand. I strive to set a good example for them and to interact with people kindly and courteously. This falls into being SMART and being KIND. I like to think we’re raising kind humans. And I know that because of my visibility in the online world, my kids will most likely get that much more exposure than the normal teenager. I also like to remind them that the Internet is FOREVER. Once it’s out there, it’s not so simple to say “sorry” and have all be forgotten. Braun and I both expressed to them that if they always stop and think before they respond, leave a comment, or interact with anyone online in any way, that mindfulness and kindness will pay off in the long run! Here are some tips we gave them:
      1. Follow the ‘Golden Rule’
      2. Spread Kindness
      3. Report Unkindness
  2. Don’t Be Afraid

    • I warned my kids early on that if they receive a creepy message or comment from someone they don’t know to show either Braun, myself, or any trusted adult. It’s important to me to keep the lines of communication open with my kids. They should feel they CAN report lewd or inappropriate behavior when they are exposed to it. While their one goal on social media is to have fun, other (usually older) individuals can take advantage of their naivety. And Braun and I have both learned that making them aware of these types of individuals helps them to be less ignorant about their approach. Braun and I also monitor their accounts. We have controls in place to make sure that we have access at all times. Social media and the Internet are so much fun. And we strive to keep it that way for our kids! Because we want them to be vigilant, we put a 3-step process into place:
      1. Take a Screenshot of any inappropriate content
      2. Report any inappropriate comments or content they come across
      3. Block any accounts or people that are not kind, courteous, and/or appropriate
    • Following these 3 steps can also help Braun or me combat the situation before it spirals. Teaching our kids to be alert will help them establish healthy boundaries in an Online world!
  3. Don’t Visit Unnaproved Websites or Download Apps Without Permission

    • This is a no-brainer in our house. Braun and I are the only ones who know the passcodes to purchase or download apps and we also have the passwords to all social accounts. Leaving it up to your kids to self-govern (especially those younger ones who seem to be able to work a tablet or phone flawlessly even though they can’t speak yet) will leave you open for disaster. Setting healthy boundaries with passcodes, time-limits, and rules governing your devices is extremely beneficial. If your child is on an Android device, you can download the Family Link app from Google, which will help you create healthy digital habits by setting ground rules to help guide them as they learn, play, and explore online. (If you’re looking for resources to do the same on your iOS device, you can check out my blog post on that topic HERE.)

Setting Healthy Boundaries Now Will Create Healthy Habits Moving Forward

It’s never too early to start to have these conversations with your kids. The internet and social media are wonderful places to hang out. In fact, I’ve met some of the best people I know there. But I also know that a healthy knowledge and awareness will also contribute to a positive experience. I urge you to have this same conversation with your own kids soon and often as they grow older. As with anything in life, communities are only as good as the people that are in them – so let’s make this online community one that is safe for our children and kind.

Make sure you check out Be Internet Awesome! They have some incredible guides, activities, AND a family pledge that you and your family can all sign! I know that my life has been incredibly enriched by the Internet. And it’s only going to become a larger presence in our children’s lives. So let’s make it an incredible place to hang out! And I want to know, how are you teaching your kids Internet safety? Have you had the “Tech Talk” with them yet? Tell me in the comments below!

Happy Surfing!

Xx Tara

Thanks to Google for sponsoring this post!

 

 

1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this information. My husband and I were just preparing to have a conversation regarding this subject with our children. This is a perfect resource!

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