It’s cool to be kind online.
That’s exactly what kids and everyone online should be saying. No one, adults or kids, should be bullied online. It’s happening more than we are all aware. Help kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world.
My sister was bullied ‘IRL’ when she was in high school. She is cute, smart, and overall just perfect. So why would anyone want to bully her? I really think it comes down to jealousy. After several years of the school doing absolutely nothing about her being bullied, she finally took classes at home through a state university. I’m glad things didn’t get worse. It couldn’t have gotten any worse for her at school though. The girls were so mean. I can’t understand how people can be so mean and be such bullies. It is not cool.
I honestly don’t think many of us understand the extent of being bullied unless we’ve been bullied ourselves. I have been lucky to never have been bullied. Now I have a thirteen year old son in the same school. The school system here seems to be much better and takes bullying very seriously. I’m glad to see the change. It truly can save someone’s life.
And now we have bullying online. Although I do think the two can differ, it’s no different in how it can make someone feel. And people can be just as mean with their words and actions even though they are hiding behind a screen. It’s not cool to be mean online. It’s not cool to be a bully online. It’s cool to be kind online. That’s the message we need to be sending!
October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Throughout the month of October, Be Internet Awesome will sprinkle positive messages across their communications to emphasize that the “golden rule” is just as important online as it is “IRL”. The internet can be a truly great place to learn when comments, conversations, and content are positive. BIA will help students and families see how to make choices that disempower bullying behavior and create healthy, productive spaces to interact.
What we know about bullying:
- 28% of students have experienced bullying personally.
- 71% of students have witnessed bullying directly.
- Only 20% – 30% of students notify adults about bullying.
- Over 50% of parents are concerned about their child being bullied.
Get your kids off the screen and learning how to interact with people face to face. It will make them better humans! Although my son loves his phone and gadgets, he also loves many different activities and being outdoors. It’s so important for our kids.
About Be Internet Awesome:
Be Internet Awesome 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.
Their 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
Are you internet awesome in all five of these areas? I love that Google is spending these messages online. You’ll also find a teacher curriculum and family guid that’s coming soon. This is a complete resource of the basics for our family so we can build on and play with or learn together. It’s the perfect resource so we can teach our kids how to be kind online. It’s the perfect way to help our kids develop digital and social skills they need which can make learning go better at school too.
Tonight I want you to sit down with your family. The perfect time might be during a meal or other family time. Families are powerful in helping their kids take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you’d want to be treated,” helping their friends and disempowering drama and cyberbullying. Your children can help break the cycle of bullying on and offline.
Teach your children to be kind. Show them how to practice respect, kindness and positivity online. Show them that you are there to help them if they make a mistake and how to earn someone’s forgiveness. Or, if they are being bullied, be prepared to give them the tools they need to turn a negative situation into a positive one.
Play Interland with your kids and put your kindness skills to the test at g.co/KindKingdom
The first step is to be clear on what kinds of actions and behavior toward others are important to your family—how we treat other people “in our family.” The next step is to think about what that looks like in digital forms: texts, posts, comments, photos, videos, etc.
- Define what being positive means to your family.
- Understand what positivity looks like and how to express it online and on devices.
- Identify situations where it’s better to wait to communicate face-to-face with someone than to text or post—and when to ask a parent or older sibling for help.
Itʼs important to remind ourselves that behind every username and avatar thereʼs a real person with real feelings, and we should treat them as we would want to be treated. When bullying or other mean behavior happens, most of the time there are four types of people involved:
- Thereʼs the aggressor, or person(s) doing the bullying.
- Thereʼs also someone being bullied – the target.
- There are witnesses to what’s going on, usually called bystanders.
- There are witnesses to what’s going on who try to positively intervene, often called upstanders.
If you find yourself the target of bullying or other bad behavior online, here are some things you can do:
If Iʼm the target, I can…
- Not respond
- Block the person
- Report them – tell my parent, teacher, sibling, or someone else I trust, and use the reporting tools in the app or service to report the harassing post, comment, or photo If you find yourself a bystander when harassment or bullying happens, you have the power to intervene and report cruel behavior.
Sometimes bystanders don’t try to stop the bullying or help the target, but when they do, they’re being an upstander. You can choose to be an upstander by deciding not to support mean behavior and standing up for kindness and positivity. A little positivity can go a long way online. It can keep negativity from spreading and turning into cruelty and harm.
If you find yourself a bystander when harassment or bullying happens, you have the power to intervene and report cruel behavior. Sometimes bystanders don’t try to stop the bullying or help the target, but when they do, they’re being an upstander. You can choose to be an upstander by deciding not to support mean behavior and standing up for kindness and positivity. A little positivity can go a long way online. It can keep negativity from spreading and turning into cruelty and harm.
If Iʼm the bystander, I can be an upstander 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.
When you see someone being mean to another person online – making them feel embarrassed or left out, making fun of them, disrespecting them, hurting their feelings, etc. – you always have choices.
First, you can choose to be an upstander instead of a bystander by helping the target.
Second, if you choose to be an upstander, you have options for what kind of action you take. The most important thing to know is that it can really help someone being targeted just to be heard if they’re sad – and to know that someone cares.
Now, not everybody feels comfortable standing up for others publicly, whether online or in the school lunchroom. If you do, go for it! You can…
- Call out the mean behavior (not the person), saying it’s not cool.
- Say something nice about the target in a post or comment.
- Get friends to compliment the target online, too.
- Offline, you can invite the person to hang out with you on the playground or sit with you at lunch. If you don’t feel comfortable helping out publicly, that’s fine.
You can also support the target privately. You can…
- Ask how they’re doing in a text or direct message.
- Say something kind or complimentary in an anonymous post, comment, or direct message (if you’re using media that lets you stay anonymous).
- Tell them you’re there for them if they want to talk after school.
- In a quiet conversation in person or on the phone, tell them you thought the mean behavior was wrong and ask if they feel like talking about what happened.
No matter how you choose to be an upstander, you have both public and private options for reporting. This could mean reporting bullying behavior via a website or application interface, or reporting what’s going on to an adult you trust.
Are your children upstanders or bystanders?
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.