As a mother to 4 active kids that each have their own smartphones and laptops, it is very important to me that my kids learn the “rules of the Internet”. I have partnered with Google who wants to help us learn to be more web savvy by teaching us how to Be Internet Awesome.
Let’s be completely honest. There are some adults that need these lessons too. As I roam social media spending a lot of time on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram I notice a trend. There are some people that seem to enjoy causing drama on social media. I do not know if it’s that they feel safe behind their computers, or that they act this way in person too. Over the years, I have found myself unfollowing some people that just seem to post negativity all the time. I prefer to keep my feed more positive. Don’t get my wrong, it is perfectly fine to have social media friends with different interests and opinions, but there are some people that just enjoy causing trouble.
Teaching Kids About Online Kindness
Sometimes I tell my kids the stories about adults not being kind online. They are aware of bullying in school, and they should be aware that bullying exists on the Internet as well, and that it is not nice. There are ways to handle differing opinions other than resorting to name calling, poking fun, or “yelling” at social media friends.
Over the past couple of years I think we have all seen a shift in the social media space. People are discussing politics, there have been many high profile events that have taken place that deserve discussion, and there have been some entertainers that have gotten in trouble for various reasons. With all of this, people jump on social media to share their frustrations, thoughts, opinions, or distain. And any opinion post is open to comments. This is usually where the “trouble” begins.
So, what can you do if you find yourself feeling heating while reading a friends social media post?
Cutting Down On Online Negativity
Keep Scrolling – Not every post deserves your comment. Sometimes it is better to just remove yourself from the situation rather than engaging in a heated argument.
Unfollow Them – You may have friends that you love to interact with in person. You may get along just fine. However, you have noticed that their social media personality is opposite of who they are in person. If this is the case, you do not have to offend your friend by unfriending them, just unfollow their posts and you won’t have to roll your eyes every time you see a post from them. However, keep in mind that this does not keep them from commenting on your posts.
Adjust Your Privacy Settings Per Post – Sometimes you might post something that you do not want a specific friend to see. This can be for a variety of reasons. You can adjust your settings when you post to show to “Friends, except _____”. This way, if you post something that you know Negative Nelly would usually comment on, she won’t even see it. 🙂
Teaching Your Kids How to Be Internet Awesome
Lock Down Their Social Media Accounts – Unless you are using your social media account to promote your business, it should be locked down. This goes double for teens and tweens that may be delving into the social media space. Teach them to only accept friend requests from family and friends that they actually know.
Teach Them to Be Kind to Friends – A mentioned above, we often hear stories on the news about online bullying and fights that break out between in real life friends on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. This is not cool. I’m lucky in that my kids are just kind anyway. However, this is not the case with all kids. Your kids should know from a young age that being nice to their friends is the way to go, whether in person, online, or be telephone. Tell them not to fall into the peer pressure of the “mean girls” and poke fun at other kids. Kids are very sensitive. Be a good friend to them all.
Report Issues – A lot of teens may think that it’s ok to do things on social media that they would not normally do. This includes bullying, posting racy photos, or sharing memes that they know their parents would not approve of. While some of this stuff may be harmless, teach your kids to report things that make them feel scared or worried. In the past few years we have heard reports of students before reported for making threats against their schools on social media. If more people reported these posts, the world would be a better place.
Helping Your Family Stay Safe Online
Visit only safe websites – There are a ton of gaming sites, shopping sites, and ad sites that are not really safe. These sites can put malware or viruses on your computer. For starters, make sure that your computer has reliable virus protection. This will protect your computer if you accidentally visit a site with malware.
Beware of Online Scams – We see it all the time. Pop ups that tell us to click something to update a plug-in, or emails tell us that we have won a contest, and to click a link to claim. Don’t fall for it! If you are not sure, just do not click. Check the from address of the email and see if the domain actually matches where the email is supposed to be from. For example, it’s not likely that your credit card company will be emailing you from an address that says email@example.com. That address does not match the company name. Also, don’t fall for sites that tell you that you have to do xyz to fix your computer. These are scams.
Use Strong Passwords – Make sure that your password is a strong combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t ever use your name as your password. Do not use easy to guess words, and make sure that your password is on the longer side.
Visit the Be Internet Awesome site to get more more tips on keeping your family safe online. And download the NEW Family Guide then encourage your kids to put their skills to the test with Interland at g.co/Interland. Happy surfing!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Google. All opinions are my own.