Technology has evolved so much that our lives are deeply intertwined with it. Whether we like it or not, the internet is now our home. And just like our homes IRL, we need to keep our virtual space clean and tidy. The next generation — the true digital natives — will inherit this virtual world, and we need to instill in them proper internet safety practices as early as now to make sure they’re set for a secure and peaceful online future.
This exact mission caused Google Philippines to launch a collection of spoken word poetry and animated videos on digital responsibility just in time for Safer Internet Day 2020. Google partnered with Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM), an NGO which aims to build peace online and in vulnerable communities nationwide.
Here are 8 things we learned from Google and TPBPM on how to help safeguard the online future of the next generation.
Urge them to think critically
You can’t believe everything on the internet. This goes out not only to unwitting kids but also to adults who share unreliable info on Facebook (no, cabbage is not the cure to cancer). The barrage of fake news proliferating our social media feeds might never cease, but we can fight this by teaching everyone to a) double-check their sources, and b) follow only reliable news outlets.
Titik Poetry’s Lawrence Jimenez’s beautiful spoken word poetry piece tackles the importance of critical thinking online. “Maaaring andito na lahat ng gusto mong hanapin,” he recites, pertaining to the internet. “Pero hindi lahat tapat, yung iba maaari kang lokohin. Hindi naman masama kung iyong susuriin.”
Encourage them to practice kindness
Just as we’re careful of what we say in person, we must also be careful and responsible for what we type and post online. The people we interact with are not just codes on the screen, they’re real individuals. In today’s generation, cancel culture and cyberbullying are rampant but we can start to change the online landscape by standing firm and choosing to offer kind words instead. It doesn’t even have to be grand gestures. Verlin Santos said it in his spoken-word piece titled Repleksyon — sometimes even a simple “How are you doing?” to a friend can make their day.
Remind them to strengthen their passwords
Watch Titik Poetry’s Viancey Reboya’s spoken word poetry on protecting yourself with secure passwords:
Warn them about oversharing
Posting every detail about your life online is not only annoying for your friends but could also prove dangerous. Urge the younger generation to think before posting anything with sensitive information — IDs, shopping receipts, bills, etc.
To explain it to kids in an engaging way, check out Google Philippines’ Cyberpeace animated series featuring a few characters that learned some valuable lessons along the way: Shirley who likes to overshare, Buddy the former bully, Suzie and her susi (a.k.a. passwords), Courageous Carlo, and Dina who paid dearly for 100 diamonds in a game.
TPBPM volunteer Christwin Felix animated the Cyberpeace series, which was written by Grace Bufi, a housewife and a passionate storyteller. They’re all narrated by YouTube Creator Janina Vela and with special participation from Dingdong Dantes, who voiced the role of “Badge Giver.”
Guide them through digital friendships
We’ve forged a few digital friendships with people far and wide thanks to the internet. But not everyone is as friendly as your pen pal. You can never tell which people have malicious intentions. Be present for kids’ online interactions and teach them that “Don’t talk to strangers” does not only apply to public places, but is a warning that should be heeded online too.
Teach them to steer clear of scams
If it’s too good to be true and it’s on the internet, it most likely isn’t true. But kids (and sometimes adults) don’t know this, so it’s crucial to warn them not to click random links no matter how enticing. We mentioned Dina earlier who clicked a random link to get free 100 diamonds for her game. That one innocent act gave hackers the opportunity to get her mother’s linked credit card info.
Teach them to spread love, not hate
In the age of the internet, you need more than kindness to foster a peaceful online environment. You need to actively spread love and quell hate. There’s enough negativity in the world, it’s up to us to overpower it with positive messages and uplifting posts.
“Nakakatakot kung minsan mag-salita,” recited Titik Poetry member Domo Sabino in his spoken word piece Ipagsawalang-bahala. “Pero mas nakakatakot walang gawin… Kung ‘di kaya ng ibang tumayo mag-isa, maaaring mag-abot ng kamay.”
Tell them they should take charge of their time
Are our gadgets controlling us or do we control our gadgets? As responsible internet-users, we should also be able to limit our screentime in order to make time for offline matters. Teach kids to also control what they see online —unfollow toxic pages (and even friends) and stick to the ones that will make your internet space brighter. These will make your time online worthwhile.
With simple lessons like these, we can teach all generations to create a peaceful internet where we can all dwell in harmony.
On Safer Internet Day of 2020, Google and TPBPM launched Cyberpeace to teach at least 10,000 high school students about digital responsibility. Amid the pandemic, with the help of several volunteers, the campaign reached more than 416,000 netizens nationwide through digital means such as social media and webinars.
Check out the spoken word poetry and animated videos on Google Philippines YouTube Channel. You can also join the conversation online using the hashtag #SaferInternet4Filipinos.