Although the Internet as we know it has been around for over 25 years, it will always be a brave, new world to the latest generation of children. The younger generations are labeled as “digital natives”, having grown up with computers and the World Wide Web at their fingertips. Yet, we must not assume they are native digital citizens. The digital world has its own rules, expectations, and customs that can only be acquired and mastered through the guidance of those who know how the digital world works. That’s us – teachers, guidance counselors, parents. We must welcome these new, young citizens to our digital land, and help them to safely and successfully navigate its strange terrain.
Since this week is Digital Citizenship Week (October 16-20), it is the perfect time to begin the journey to help students become respectful and responsible digital citizens. We do not have to go this journey alone as there are excellent resources to help us teach digital citizenship. Since many K-12 schools already use G Suite for Education, I will focus on Google’s Digital Citizenship resources since they are easy to use and integrate.
Google wants students to Be Internet Awesome.
The core principles that shape the lessons and activities of the Be Internet Awesome program are:
Be Internet Smart – Share with Care
Good (and bad) news travels fast online, and without some forethought, kids can find themselves in tricky situations that have lasting consequences. The solve? Learning how to share with those they know and those they don’t.
Be Internet Alert – Don’t Fall for Fake
It’s important to help kids become aware that people and situations online aren’t always as they seem. Discerning between what’s real and what’s fake is a very real lesson in online safety.
Be Internet Strong – Secure Your Secrets
Personal privacy and security are just as important online as they are offline. Safeguarding valuable information helps kids avoid damaging their devices, reputations, and relationships.
Be Internet Kind – It’s Cool to be Kind
The Internet is a powerful amplifier that can be used to spread positivity or negativity. Kids can 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.
Be Internet Brave – When in Doubt, Talk It Out
One lesson that applies to any and all encounters of the digital kind: When kids come across something questionable, they should feel comfortable talking to a trusted adult. Adults can support this behavior by fostering open communication at home and in the classroom.
The Be Internet Awesome program offers a free, ISTE-aligned curriculum with well-designed and detailed lessons and activities. There is also a very fun and engaging game that reinforces the lessons.
Here are some other great resources for Be Internet Awesome:
Finally, Google offers a free Digital Citizenship and Safety Course for teachers to help them better educate their students on staying safe and secure online. This course takes approximately 75 minutes to complete.