Teaching my Daughters to be Upstanders on Social Media
4 mins read

Teaching my Daughters to be Upstanders on Social Media

In partnership with the Forward Influence Network, this post is sponsored by Google.

Online predators. Inappropriate content. Exposure to adult themes. Bullying. These are the cornerstones of fear I carry as a mother as my children get closer to entering the world of social media. I can let that fear guide me or I can stand strong and teach them to Be Internet Awesome! Luckily, I have help from a reputable source: Google.

Be Internet Awesome
This is Google’s free multifaceted program designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence. 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.

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 itʼs cool to be kind
  • BRAVE: Where we learn that, when in doubt, we talk it out

All of these points are driven home on the new, interactive game, Interland. This is great way to help teach our kids to be Upstanders, not bystanders when it comes to bullying online or in schools!

I constantly talk to my kids about acceptance and kindness. I want them to learn the truth: we are all the same and deserve the same amount of respect. We should always be kind to each other. Often times, those acting out need the most kindness and acceptance heaped upon them.

The same lessons are imperative for social media interactions as well. 71% of students have witnessed bullying directly and I would be hard pressed to believe that those numbers aren’t amplified on social media. Of that 71%, only about 20-30% of kids even notify an adult about the bullying! It is up to us to teach our kids to be an UPSTANDER: people who help the person being hurt when they see something hurtful happening, and help turn negative situations into positive ones. Teaching our kids that there is someone behind the user name with real feelings is a start.

With help from Be Internet Awesome, parents can help kids learn to be an Upstander!

Teach them to be an upstander everyday by:

  • Finding a way to be kind to or support the person being targeted
  • Calling out the mean behavior in a comment or reply (remember to call out the behavior, not the person), if you feel comfortable with that and think it’s safe to do so
  • Deciding not to help the aggressor by spreading the bullying or making it worse by sharing the mean post or comment online
  • Getting a bunch of friends to create a “pile-on of kindness” – post lots of kind comments about the person being targeted (but nothing mean about the aggressor, because you’re setting an example, not retaliating)
  • Reporting the harassment. Tell someone who can help, like a parent, teacher, or school counselor.

Another way to help is to play the game, Interland, with your kids. We all know kids love games and this one has a positive message we all can agree on. It is a great, interactive game that put everyone’s kindness skills to the test.

I am playing it with my kids because I think stopping bullying, on the internet or otherwise, IS possible! It takes a great partnership between reputable sources and a dedication from parents and students to make it happen. The sooner we all come together to be Upstanders, the sooner it will be a thing of the past!

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.

Has your child experienced bullying?