Make educated choices online with these tips and resources
Helping kids become smart digital citizens with Be Internet Awesome
To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make informed decisions. This program teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence. Kids can play their way to being Internet awesome with Interland, an online adventure that puts the key lessons of digital safety into hands-on practice with four challenging games.
So far, we’ve rolled this program out in the US, Latin America, and many countries in Europe and the Middle East. We have even taken this curriculum directly to schools in the U.S. as part of an Online Safety Roadshow to help teens learn how to be smart and safe online.
Be Internet Smart. Share with care
Good (and bad) news travels fast online, and without some forethought, kids and teens can find themselves in tricky situations that have lasting consequences. We’ve created tips for them to learn how to share appropriately with the right people.
Teach them about their digital footprint
Together with your children, search online for yourself or a musician that they love, and talk about what you find. You may want to check the results in advance. Talk about what others can learn about you from these results and how you develop a digital footprint online.
Help minimize social comparison
Make sure your child knows that what friends share online is just one part of the whole story, and it’s usually the highlights. Remind them that everyone also has boring, sad, or embarrassing moments that they don’t share.
Create family rules about what to share
Set clear expectations for your family about what not to share online, like photos or private info. Practice taking a few photos together and talk about what responsible sharing looks like. For example, encourage your child to think before sharing photos not just of themselves but of others too. Remind them to ask permission if they aren’t sure.
Teach them about oversharing
Brainstorm solutions for oversharing, like taking down what was shared or fixing privacy settings. If it happens, help keep things in perspective. Some embarrassing moments are serious, but others are just good learning moments.
Be Internet Alert. Don't fall for fake
It’s important to help your children become aware that people and situations online aren’t always as they seem. We’ve developed useful guidance on how you can help them discern between what’s real and what’s fake.
Explain to them why someone might want to get ahold of their passwords or private data. With this information, someone could use their account and pretend to be them.
Help them spot phishing attempts
Your children may not realize that people might try to trick them into giving up their personal info. Teach them to come to you if they get a message, link, or email that’s from a stranger, asks for account info, or has a strange-looking attachment.
Teach them to recognize scams
Let your children know that some tricky scams look like they’re coming from a friend. Even savvy adults get fooled! If a message seems off, have them check in with you. Responding to their concerns seriously helps build trust.
Look for security clues together
Visit a website together and look for signs of security. Does the URL have a padlock next to it or does it start with https, which means it’s secure? Does the URL match the site name? Help point out the signs they should be looking for when they arrive on a site.
Be Internet Strong. Secure your secrets
Personal privacy and security are just as important online as they are offline. It’s important that your children understand how to safeguard their valuable information to avoid damaging their devices, reputations, and relationships.
Create hard-to-crack passwords
Teach them how to turn a memorable phrase into a strong password. Use at least eight mixed-case letters and change some to symbols and numbers. For example, “My younger sister is named Ann” becomes myL$1Nan. Help them understand what makes a weak password, like using your own address, birthday, 123456, or “password,” which are easy for someone to guess.
Keep their private information, private
Talk about what info they should keep private – like their home address, passwords, or the school they attend. Encourage them to come to you if they’re asked for information like this.
Teach good password hygiene
Teach them to think twice before entering their password anywhere and double-check that it’s the right app or site. When in doubt, they should come talk to you before entering anything. Additionally, encourage them to have different passwords for different apps and sites. They can have one main password that they add a few letters to for each app.
Help them avoid pranks
Remind them that they can help prevent others from accessing their accounts to send fake or embarrassing messages by keeping their passwords private.
Be Internet Kind. It's cool to be kind
The Internet is a powerful amplifier that can be used to spread positivity or negativity. Help your children take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you would like to be treated” to their actions online, creating positive impact for others and disempowering bullying behavior.
Create a dialogue around online bullying
Talk about online harassment or times when people use online tools to be intentionally hurtful to others. Plan who your children could come to if they see or experience it. Ask if they or their friends have experienced online meanness. Some questions you could ask are: What form did it take? How did it feel? Did you think you had the power to help stop it by perhaps telling someone about a mean comment?
Establish your family values online
Be clear about how you expect them to act online. Treating others as they’d want to be treated and saying online only what they would say face to face are great places to start.
Talk about the meaning behind someone’s words and encourage positivity
Talk about tone of voice and remind your kids that it’s easy to misinterpret someone’s meaning online. Encourage them to assume good intent and talk to friends directly if they’re unclear about someone’s meaning. Talk about how good it feels to send and receive positive messages online. Consider using one of your own apps together to send a positive comment or message.
Be Internet Brave. When in doubt, talk it out
One lesson that applies to any and all encounters of the digital kind: When your children come across something questionable, they should feel comfortable talking to a trusted adult. You can support this behavior by fostering open communication at home.
Discuss what they do online
Spend time talking about how your family uses technology. Show an interest in the apps your children use the most and ask for a tour. Find out how they use their apps and what they like about them.
Set limits that can change over time
Set rules for your children’s accounts, like content filters and time limits, and let your kids know these may change as they get older. Settings should evolve over time. Don’t just “set it and forget it.”
Help them identify people to turn to
Identify three trusted people they can go to if they come across stuff online that makes them feel uncomfortable. A trusted person can help them process what they saw and prevent their seeing more like it in the future.
Support quality time online
Encourage them to engage with games and apps that teach them creativity or problem-solving skills.