What are you doing? I am preparing a workshop where I will explain people how they should protect themselves in the internet. Cool, can you explain me that, too?

After several years of explaining adults how to protect themselves when using the internet, I found myself searching for words to explain my own child the do’s and don’ts of internet safety. During our conversation I realized that my perspective and usage of internet basically has nothing in common with how children use the internet.

There are some interesting lessons when looking at computers, internet and other technology from the perspective of kids. A computer is just a window to another world, with games and videos. Internet is when Wi-Fi is enabled. Using a smartphone to call someone is strange, parents do that. Why wait for something when you can do so much on-demand, where and when you want it? Why would anyone want to read and write emails when there are so many other cool apps to chat?

Not yet impacted by having to work with technology, for most kids the purpose of technology is mainly entertainment and communication. Sometimes they can even use it for a school assignment and even then most of the kids prefer watching a video over reading up on a topic. Without any consideration for what is behind the content they use, kids cherry-pick the offerings based on their liking. Technology as consumer in the truest form.

As wonderful as it is to see them explore technology completely open minded, it is crucial to also prepare them for the other side of the wonders of technology and internet. The Dark Side of it all. Cyber crime, abuse, bullying. These problems exist in the virtual world just like in the real world, and for many kids the line between real and virtual is even thinner than for most adults.

Understandable do’s and don’ts are important to help kids with embracing technology in a safe way. Understanding why something is a DON’T is just as important as understanding the DON’T itself. Complicating the explaining and understanding even further is privacy, especially helping a child to understand why privacy is something to care for. How do you explain to an enthusiastic internet using kid that data is the new gold, and why should they care?

The only way to make kids aware of the risks without installing fear, is to start early and to take it from the perspective of the kids. Get involved, inform yourself. Educate yourself about the way the kids use technology and internet, and take it from there. The program Internet Safety for Smart Kids (and their parents & teachers) is developed to help parents and teachers to support kids by actively being involved in what they do, and to explain kids what they shouldn’t do and why. In short, to help kids to embrace technology in a safe(r) way.

Start by watching the set for parents and teachers, and work your way through the homework! When you feel comfortable enough with the information, take the time to watch the set for kids with your kid(s), and be prepared for a lot of questions. From that moment on, stay involved and keep supporting the kids.

For parents, by a parent and the endless patience of all the kids and parents who helped creating this program!

Sources:

This is buddy by the very creative Simple White. Buddy helps me a lot to explain difficult things in a not so difficult way.

Cybersecurity for Road Warriors and Couch Potatoes

Internet Safety for Smart Kids (and their parents & teachers)

Being passionate about CyberSecurity