Technology is essential to our society. Safe and healthy practices are vital to the health of our community. But where does technology meet safety? And what can be done to empower children in their use of technology? Heather Cowan, director for White Ribbon Week, states, “Kids are very media savvy and because of this they also must be resilient and confident in their online use.” So what can be done to teach this?

According to Kids Matter, 95% of 8 to 11 year olds accessed the internet in the last four weeks. Statistics show they are finding their way online and its important they learn tools to keep themselves and others safe. Cowan states that in promoting healthy online behavior, “we never get any push back or flak from parents.” It seems like a win-win. So what exactly are the challenges? 

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Sometimes the topic of internet safety can be one that people may not understand. Why is it needed and how can it be effective? Cowan describes the White Ribbon Program as having “themes that range from brain power–where we talk about protecting our brains–to “let’s get real” where we talk about real communication and real positive interactions with each other instead of online.”

 “It helps them understand the ‘why’ and not just the ‘no.’ Many times kids will turn something off or turn away to appease a parent but we want our kids more resilient than this so we want them to understand–to have the filter in the kids–where . We also are pro-technology. We teach kindness online.”

Anne Blythe, founder of BTR, states, “White Ribbon Week is vital. We know many women whose partners have been involved in pornography and are exhibiting abusive behaviors so our listeners are passionate about protecting their children from pornography and the damage that it causes–not only to the person who views the pornography but the damage they cause in other people’s lives.”

What Can Be Done To Help With Internet Safety?

Anne adds, “We need to not only teach our children but also our communities about the harms of pornography and how to use digital devices in healthy ways. As parents, we need to model what is right for our kids.”

Experts agree that children know and want to learn. Cowan states, “They know we talk about media. No parent is ever immune. All our children at one point or another will be confronted with weird material that we want them to know what to do with.

The Three Steps In Online Safety:

  1. Immediately turn it off
  2. Tell a trusted adult
  3. Turn to something positive

 These 3 simple things can really help teach children what to do in the event that they will be exposed to something unpleasant.

Why Online Safety Is So Valuable

A local high school principal states, “Whenever we have a problem with sexting or an issue with my high schoolers, we know we can empower them to make healthy choices in regards to online activity. It’s hard to know what difference we are making in the lives of students, but their eyes light up when there is a discussion once a day for a week about what to do–they remember and feel empowered.”

Anne: To implement this in your local elementary school, the first thing you need to do is go to whiteribbonweek.org, take the letter to your principal, and work in conjunction with the PTA. This is not a program that is external where you hire someone else to come in and do in the school. The program materials are implemented by the teachers in the school and PTA. For a small fee, the school can implement it–either as a stand-alone White Ribbon Week or in conjunction with another week like bullying or Red Ribbon Week.

Cowan states, “Every time someone learns something new, there is that much more protection. You never know what a difference you will make in that one child’s life or their family’s or their cousins. It is worth it to do your best. It gets better every year. It is actually so well spelled out and planned, it’s a fun week to be in charge of.”

For our audience for the next week if you use the code BTR15, you will get 15% off any White Ribbon Week program on our website.

As always, there is daily support with our Daily Support Groups. Schedule an individual session with a coach to talk about your specific needs individually. If you want to look at all the topics they cover, go to the individual sessions page.

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Until next week, stay safe out there.

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