How Parents Can Get Involved on ‘Safer Internet Day

You know what would be great? If every day were “Safer Internet Day.” There is a lot for parents to be terrified of when it comes to the internet: online predators, cyberbullying, the prevalence of incredibly graphic and violent pornography, and so on. But complete avoidance isn’t an option if we want to teach our kids how to navigate the internet safely and wisely. So we created a holiday to help us along, and that holiday is today.

Safer Internet Day started in 2004 in Europe as an internet safety awareness campaign and is now celebrated in more than 100 countries, according to its website. It is hosted in the United States by ConnectSafely, a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety, privacy and security.” Here’s a little more about the holiday:

Safer Internet Day aims to create both a safer and a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. The campaign aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet.

Participate in person
PTAs and YMCAs across the country have committed to hosting events today or in the coming weeks and months in support of Safer Internet Day. Google’s Be Internet Awesome program is partnering with key organizations, including the National PTA, ConnectSafely, Scholastic and YMCA, to offer workshops and trainings for families.

You can search available workshops with the YMCA and view the full list of participating PTAs.

How to Fix Your Family’s Tech Problems Without Going Crazy

I don’t mind helping out friends, loved ones, and extended family members when some device or service goes wrong, but it can be tricky when they don’t quite understand how to describe the problem—or even the things they’ve done to fix it. Having found myself in this position quite a few times, I’ve come up with a few general troubleshooting techniques that you can use to (hopefully) address most problems your family members bug you about.

Make sure the device is running the most updated version of its software

Whether someone says they’re having a problem with their smartphone, their router, or most other devices, it never hurts to confirm that they’ve actually updated their device’s software to the latest version. That’s easy for smartphones; for PCs, make sure they’ve at least run the system-update tools in Windows or macOS recently. If they’re still using an ancient version of either (such as Windows 7 or macOS Sierra, for example), you might even consider walking them through an upgrade to a more modern OS—a longer-term project, but something worth considering as a larger solution.

You’ll probably need to walk your friends and family members through the firmware update process for trickier devices, like their routers, but it’s worth the time for the additional security updates or features they’ll receive. And if a device has some kind of auto-updating feature, it doesn’t take that long to pull up its manual, find out where that setting is, and have them confirm for you that they have it turned on.