It’s Cool to Be Kind: 6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness

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6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

This post was sponsored by Google in partnership with the Forward Influence Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When my daughter and I were at our local coffee shop a few weeks ago, the woman in front of us was NOT in a good mood. She was short with the gal who took her order, she hummed and hawed while she waited for her drink to be made, and when the barista handed over her caramel macchiato, she went on a 3-minute tirade about how slow the service was and how long she had waited for her beverage. And despite the never-ending string of apologies offered by the staff – along with a gift card for a free coffee on her next visit – she would not let it drop.

The pre-mom me probably would’ve just rolled my eyes before burying myself in my phone while I waited for my own order, but when I saw the look of horror on my child’s face as she watched the way this woman was behaving, my mama bear instincts kicked in. I told the lady she was being mean to the barista and encouraged her to apologize.

The woman didn’t appreciate my input and left in a huff without apologizing, which really disappointed me, but once she was out of sight, the barista thanked me for sticking up for her and 3 customers came over to tell me how much they appreciated what I had done.

And you know what?

It felt really good to speak up instead of being a bystander!

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and while we talk about kindness and friendship a lot in our household, I wanted to take it a step further and discuss the importance of being kind to people we don’t necessarily know – including people we interact with online – and that interaction set the stage for some great conversations I’ve been meaning to have with my child.

While my daughter isn’t quite at the age where she’s interacting online per se, she spends a lot of time on YouTube and has access to comment threads on her favorite toy unboxing videos. I never considered that she might actually take the time to read these threads, but after discovering she was participating in some of the giveaways hosted by her favorite channels (say WHAT?!), I realized I was mistaken.

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

I’ve already discussed Internet safety with my favorite gal, and I’m excited to team up with Google and Forward Influencer to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind challenge.

If you want to know how to teach kids internet kindness, here are 6 tips to help you get started!

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness

1) DEFINE AND DISCUSS CYBERBULLYING
As our children begin to spend more time online, it’s important that we take the time to educate them about cyberbullying and the various ways texts, posts, comments, photos, videos, etc. can impact the feelings of others. Remind your child that there is a real person behind every avatar and username and provide examples of both positive and negative online interactions.

2) WOULD YOU SAY THAT IRL?
Once your child has a better understanding of how a text, post, or comment can be perceived, encourage them to do what I like to call an ‘IRL test’ before they hit the send or publish buttons. Ask your child to consider how he or she would feel if they were on the receiving end of the communication they see online – or the text, post, or comment they are about to send or publish – and remind them how easy it is to misinterpret someone’s words in the absence of face-to-face communication.

When in doubt, I always like to add a fun emoji to ensure the person I’m communication with knows I’m being funny and upbeat!

3) PRACTICE BEING AN UPSTANDER
Remind your child that if he or she witnesses cyberbullying, they have 2 choices. Your child can choose to be a bystander and ignore what’s happening, or your child can decide to be an upstander and take action to stop the bullying and help the target.

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

There are many different ways we can be upstanders, and it doesn’t need to be scary! Take the time to educate your child on the importance of standing up to cyberbullies, and provide them with examples of how to do this. For example, if your child witnesses cyberbullying on a social media post, he or she can:

  • Call out the cyberbully’s comment by responding to him or her directly within the comment thread*
  • Leave a kind comment supporting the person who is being bullied
  • Ask several of your friends to follow your lead and leave a kind comment
  • Report the cyberbully to a parent, teacher, etc.

*Remind your child to call out the comment and never the cyberbully. You don’t want your child to perpetuate the same behavior.

4) COMBAT NEGATIVITY WITH POSITIVITY
Unfortunately, not everyone feels comfortable and confident enough to be an upstander. And that’s okay! There are lots of other ways your child can help someone who is being bullied online.

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

If your child witnesses cyberbullying but doesn’t feel comfortable being an upstander, here are some other ways he or she can help the target of the bullying:

  • Say something kind to the target in a post or comment
  • Ask several friends to leave a kind comment as well
  • Send the target a text or DM to see if he or she is okay and encourage several friends to do the same
  • Leave an anonymous post that is kind
  • Talk to the target directly and tell him or her how you felt about the cyberbullying and remind him or her they have your support
  • Invite the target to hangout IRL (eat lunch together, spend time together after school, etc.)

5) OPERATION: RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
I’m a big believer in leading by example, and one of my favorite ways to combat all forms of bullying is to sprinkle kindness EVERYWHERE. It takes mere seconds to be kind to others, and since we all have our own struggles and battles to fight each day, a kind word, comment, text, or post can go a LONG way in making others feel good when they need it most.

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

My daughter and I spent some time brainstorming random acts of online kindness to inspire you, and we’re excited to share our faovrites!

  • ‘Like’ a social media post and leave an encouraging comment
  • Share an inspirational quote or funny meme with 3 friends each day
  • When a friend posts a selfie, leave a genuine compliment
  • If you see a mean comment online, respond with something positive
  • Recognize and respond to all positive comments people leave on your posts with a thank you, happy-face emoji, etc.
  • Share something positive or inspiring someone else posted

It’s cool to be kind, so remind your kids to be positive digital citizens and teach them to treat others how they’d like to be treated both online and IRL. And remember to practice what you preach! Your kids most likely see your social media accounts more often than you realize, and the way you and your friends treat each other online will have a huge impact on the digital world for generations to come.

6) PUT YOUR KINDNESS SKILLS TO THE TEST!
Be Internet Awesome – Google’s multifaceted program designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence – offers a hands-on, 4-game online adventure called Interland. Interland puts the key lessons of digital safety into practice for kids, and they have an entire game dedicated to online kindness. Put your child’s skills to the test at g.co/KindKingdom!

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

You can also learn more about how to be kind online with Google’s Be Internet Awesome Family guide at g.co/BeInternetAwesome.

Remember: It’s Cool To Be Kind

In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, I challenge you and your kids to perform a random act of kindness online with the hashtag #ItsCoolToBeKind, and then challenge 3 (or more!) fellow families to do another act of kindness within 48 hours. Leave a positive reply, post an inspiring message, or send a funny meme to someone who needs cheering up. And if you see someone being cyberbullied, show your child how to be an upstander instead of a bystander!

‘Cyberbullying is Bullying. Hiding behind a pretty screen, doesn’t make it less hateful, written words have power.’
-Unknown

This post was sponsored by Google in partnership with the Forward Influence Network. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you’re trying to figure out how to teach kids internet kindness and felt these tips and ideas helpful, please share this post on Pinterest!

6 Ways to Teach Kids Internet Kindness | While many parents and teachers do a great job of teaching kids about internet safety and positive digital citizenship, the importance of teaching kids how to recognize and deal with cyberbullying is often overlooked. These lessons are particularly important when our children start engaging on social media, and we’re excited to participate in the #ItsCoolToBeKind campaign to share 6 ways to teach kids kindness online. #internetsafety #onlinebullying

Gwen
Gwen
Gwen is a 40-something freelance writer and social media consultant who has an unhealthy love for makeup, hair, and fashion. She lives with her husband and 8-year-old daughter in Toronto, Canada and hopes to move to a warmer climate someday. Preferably tomorrow.