Google wants to spread positivity online, stop cyberbullying

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In an effort to combat cyberbullying this October, Google has teamed up with two nonprofits to teach kids how to spread kindness and positivity online.

Cyberbullying is the number one online safety concern in the classroom, according to research from Google, and both parents and teachers have recognized that more needs to be done to teach kids to be safer, more positive digital citizens. Playworks, a nonprofit committed to teaching kids leadership skills through play, and DonorsChoose.org, an organization that provides teachers with tools to support quality education, have joined forces with Google’s ‘Be Internet Awesome’ program to tackle this issue.

“[Be Internet Awesome] is really designed to help teach kids the fundamentals of navigating the internet,” Jessica Covarrubias, who leads this program at Google, told EdScoop.

The program, which is targeted at children aged 6 to 11, addresses the basics of internet conduct, like how to create secure passwords, spot misinformation and communicate responsibly. But Covarrubias said her favorite lesson teaches kids how to spread positivity and kindness online.

“They forget that words online also have impact, whether negative or positive,” Covarrubias said. “We’re teaching them the golden rule.”

The partnership between Google, Playworks and DonorsChoose.org is meant to help spread awareness and impact of the resources available to students, teachers and parents.

Real Players Don’t Bully, a campaign against bullying from Playworks, shows kids the importance of practicing kindness and inclusion to prevent bullying in the real world. Google is its digital partner.

“They’re focused on teaching kids to be positive offline, so we came on as a partner to connect the dots and help teach kids how to be kind online as well,” Covarrubias said.

The partnership with DonorsChoose.org helps spread awareness to educators that there are resources available to help kids teach kids kindness.

“We wanted to be able to help empower educators with the tools to begin teaching kids about how to be kind online, and we wanted to be able to help teach children, overall, this idea of being kind online,” she said.

This program is expected to make a big impact, reaching upwards of 4,000 classrooms and 40,000 students and will feature a series of events with elementary school students around the country.

At each event, kids will learn the importance of positive behavior both online and in real life through Google’s Be Internet Awesome lessons — which cover topics like kindness, privacy and security — and an interactive online game called Interland, which is designed to reinforce key concepts of the program in a fun, engaging way.

By introducing these concepts at a young age, it helps kids to have open conversations both inside and outside their classrooms about appropriate online behavior and what to do when faced with challenges online. “Our intent is to make this really embedded into their lives wherever they are,” Covarrubias said.

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