Keeping Our Kids Safer in the Wild West of the Web

It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to think about hopping on a plane to go back to my old stomping grounds in Los Angeles. With all of our jumping around from Maryland to Virginia and now Tennessee WHILE having young kids and raising a family – it simply became more and more difficult.

In the event that you missed my last post, I’m in the beginning stages of a multi-month partnership with Google that will take us through the end of 2019. With all of its programs and resources, Google is in the perfect position to work with influential parents in educating with the intent of us sharing this information with our peers.

With that in mind, a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to have them invite me to their Spruce Goose Hangar, just a few blocks away from my old house in Southern California.

Back in 2010 just before we moved, there was an area just south of Venice and North of LAX that used to be flat, undeveloped property. In fact, the only thing there when we left was a Public Storage facility that yes, used to house all of our extra junk.

That area has since exploded and when I walked up to the hangar for the first time, I wasn’t exactly certain what to expect…

My immediate impression of the workspace was how spacious it was. There was an energy in the air inside – with employees tucked into various nooks and crannies of its winding internal design.

As big as this space was AND with as many people as they had working there, it was comforting to know that a certain contingent of them were solely focused on educating users on how to keep our kids safer in the Wild West of the Web.

This is the first time in history that a generation is growing up with constant access to the internet, which is exciting – yet frightening all in the same breath.

As we maneuvered up the stairs, in and out of elevators and made our way into our assigned conference area for the morning – I could already see the colors and words on a pamphlet in front of my seat.

Smart, Alert, Strong, Kind and Brave. These are the words being used to describe how to Be Internet Awesome.

Google has teamed up with several experts in online safety for families and education to  create five core pillars that coordinate with the colors on the booklet above.

SMART – Share with Care: Online reputation

ALERT – Don’t Fall for Fake: Phishing & Scams

STRONG – Secure Your Secrets: Privacy & Security

KIND – It’s Cool to Be Kind

BRAVE – When in Doubt, Talk it Out: Questionable and Inappropriate Content

My oldest, Ava, who is now almost ten years old went through ‘Interland’ with me at her side in a post that I shared on Dad or Alive earlier this year. Interland is an adventurous and engaging web-based online game that makes learning about digital safety and citizenship interactive and fun. You can give it a try HERE (need link).

After learning more about ‘Be Internet Awesome’, it felt as if Google had left behind a clear mark on me. So I felt it was only fair to do the same…

One of the other things that we dove into was Family Link – an app from Google that’s helping families form healthy digital habits together.

Family Link provides an opportunity for parents to create and manage a Google account for your child (as long as they’re under 13!). You can manage the content, set screen time limits and lock your child’s device if necessary. You can also see their location when they have their device.

With three of my four kids already proficient with phones and tablets, this is extremely helpful. In a future post, I’ll talk more about how my wife and I created Gmail accounts for our kids when they were born and have been sending them emails for years. At a certain point, we’ll hand those over to our kids – and Family Link will allow us to transition them safely into that world…

There’s only so much information that you can pack into a day or two…and without food, we wouldn’t get much further. As you can see, there’s one subtle difference between me and my parenting/lifestyle influencer peers. I’m honored and humbled to have been asked to offer a dad’s voice within this important topic!

Thanks to my friends at Google and Anchor Media for not sending me home to my kids empty-handed! Reminiscent of the color-scheme of this entire campaign – my kids absolutely flipped over these crazy straws!

Stick with me over the next few months as I continue to dive deeper into all of these individual resources, how they work together and how they might be beneficial to you, as parents, in helping transition your little ones into a safe space online.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of Google and their #GoogleFamilyPartner #BeInternetAwesome and #FamilyLink campaign, however the experiences are all mine. 

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