zacharie internet

I’ve been online sharing my life for more than 20 years. My sons have grown up with me sharing their lives online, I registered Twitter accounts for them when they were infants, and Zacharie is expressing interest in becoming a YouTuber.

But I don’t let them online. At least not willingly.

As digital as I am, my kids are restricted to iPads in airplane mode, or apps only. They’re not allowed to daisy chain YouTube videos on their own, I don’t drop them into Minecraft chat rooms, they’re never at a keyboard.

At least when I’m around.

At school, it’s an entirely different story. As tight as I am on the leash to let my kids wild on the internet, school is a little looser on the reins.

It makes me raise an eyebrow, but I’m grateful they’re doing it responsibly. Zacharie joined a computer club in his school where they play games at noon hour, and got some quick lessons in etiquette.

“We learned not to tell anyone where we live, because some people will sell that information,” he explained to me after the first day. “We learned not to be mean, because there are these people are online to make kids feel bad. And we learned to never put something bad on the internet, because it will make other people feel horrible.”

Before you set kids loose in to the world, they need to have the tools and skills to react. I admit, I’ve been a little slow on the uptake for teaching my kids about the web. There’s more keyboarding going on at home, but under a watchful eye with constant reminders.

My oldest is only in Grade 3, but the seeds are being sown. From the stories I’ve heard from friends with kids in Grade 5, he’ll need those crops of good habits to be ready for harvest very soon.

OMG. I don’t even want to know why.

In addition to schools with safe internet smarts,  Shaw Communications and key partners are also on board this month, teaming up in support of Pink Shirt Promises – a national campaign aimed at ending bullying across Canada.

The campaign kicks off today (February 9) in conjunction with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s Safer Internet Day, and continues until Pink Shirt Day on February 24.

Pink Shirt Day 2016

The most important thing we can do is talk to our kids. Keep the communication open so there are no surprises on either end – would they be an instigator, or victim.

How old are your kids? How much freedom do they have online? What are their experiences like?

Shaw is asking you to publicly pledge a Pink Shirt Promise, a commitment to ending bullying and post your promises on social media platforms using the hashtag #PinkShirtPromise.

“Bullying is destructive, emotionally damaging, and, in some cases, deadly, and no child should have to suffer from its harmful and negative effects,” said Brad Shaw, Chief Executive Officer, Shaw Communications Inc. “Shaw’s #PinkShirtPromise campaign is a powerful initiative that gives us the ability to work closely with our partners to create safer environments for children and youth –whether at school, at home, or online.”

Canadians can also take a photo of themselves with friends making a pinky promise to help stop bullying using #PinkyPromise as the caption along with #PinkShirtPromise.

For every promise and pinky promise made, participants will be entered to win a trip to Toronto for an exclusive ET Canada experience. All residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) who submit a written promise about what they will do to end bullying via social media by Wednesday, February 24, 2016, will be eligible to be entered into a draw for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a flight for two to Toronto, two nights hotel accommodation, an Entertainment Tonight Canada Experience and $1,500 dollar shopping spree to an Ivanhoe Cambridge mall.

This branded content appears in exchange for a donation to Team Diabetes Canada.

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