Google teaches Council Bluffs middle schoolers how to be smart, safe online

Google took some time out to teach middle schoolers about online safety.
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 8:51 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As the internet becomes more and more prevalent in our daily lives, efforts are being made to teach kids how to make smart decisions when browsing or posting online.

For the first time since the pandemic hit, Google representatives are going back to schools to teach students valuable skills, and they started with middle schoolers at Wilson Middle School in Council Bluffs.

“To say it simply, be mindful about what you share and who you share it with,” says Denna, a representative with Google, while talking to students Friday morning.

Denna and co-presenter Samantha taught students about how quickly information, photos, videos, private texts and direct messages can be spread across the internet while informing students how to set strong, non-predictable passwords and understand browser settings.

“Good habits are always born up front,” says Dan Dawson, an Iowa state senator.

Dawson and Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh joined Friday’s internet-awesome Google assembly. Dawson stresses the importance of teaching students to protect themselves and their information online.

“When we were growing up we didn’t have these kinds of issues but now one photo can be sent to 100 kids within a matter of minutes, it could be an embarrassing photo and that can ruin a kid’s life one way or the other,” Dawson says. “Whether it be securing our phones, thinking about what we’re sending and having good strong passwords, those are all things to help keep our kids safe and it’ll be great and tangible lessons for down the road too as they grow to be adults.”

Students learned about and answered questions about avoiding phishing scams, and to always tell a parent or trusted adult if something they find or see online doesn’t seem right.

“When in doubt, talk it out,” Sam and Denna say.

But one of the most important lessons students were reminded of was this:

“There are a lot of opportunities to respond to messages and comments so why not be positive?” Denna asks the group.

The importance of kindness.

“There are a lot of quick ways to spread positivity and make the internet a kinder place.”

Because online, you are what you share.