The Y In Central Maryland Joins Six-City Partnership With Google To Bring Online Safety Workshops And Resources To Families Across The U.S.

The Y to host Google’s Be Internet Awesome workshops to underscore safe Internet use among local children during Internet Safety Month

6/19/2019, 1:41 p.m.
The Y in Central Maryland is teaming up with Google to host workshops for parents to help teach families about ...

The Y in Central Maryland is teaming up with Google to host workshops for parents to help teach families about online safety and digital citizenship with its Be Internet Awesome program (BIA), and help families create healthy digital habits with the Family Link app.

The partnership that began with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago has expanded to include six U.S. cities. The YMCA Associations, including The Y in Central Maryland have joined efforts with Google to offer thousands of families across the country resources from Google’s Be Internet Awesome online safety and digital citizenship program to help teach kids the basics of digital citizenship and safety, to help them make the most of the Internet and be prepared to make smart decisions online. A total of 100 workshops have been scheduled at YMCA locations in Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Long Island, with The Y in Central Maryland hosting 14 events starting today.

The workshops, designed for parents, coincide with June’s National Internet Safety Month and come at the start of the school summer holidays when screen time use typically surges and parents seek ways to best protect their children from unscrupulous online activity.

“As the Internet and technology become more and more ingrained in our daily lives, making sure that families are equipped with the necessary tools to establish safe and healthy online habits is crucial. Google’s Be Internet Awesome program empowers families to have conversations about online at home with helpful information. We feel strongly that these resources need to reach our communities and are honored to be partnering with Google,” said Y President and CEO John Hoey.

“We are thrilled to bring the Be Internet Awesome program to families across the U.S. through parent workshops,” said Jessica Covarrubias, Google’s Be Internet Awesome lead. “We want to encourage families to navigate the Internet in a safe and confident manner. This is why we’ve developed Be Internet Awesome to help teach kids and families the fundamentals of online safety and digital citizenship. Parents have expressed the need for helpful information on these topics, so we designed resources for families and created parent workshops to provide the tools and resources to guide conversations about online safety at home.”

The one-hour workshops are free and will focus on Be Internet Awesome’s “Internet Code of Awesome”: Be SMART, ALERT, STRONG, KIND and BRAVE. Families will learn to teach their children how to communicate responsibly, understand real from fake in the face of phishing and scams, build strong passwords, be positive and kind online, talk about questionable content with their family, and why building healthy tech habits is important. The workshops will give parents access to free bilingual resources, answers to questions about online safety and digital citizenship, and information to help facilitate discussions at home. Most centers are also offering child care services during the session for the convenience of parents.

The six-city collaboration emerged following the success of a pilot program between the YMCA of Metro Chicago and Google in April 2019 in hosting 18 BIA workshops at each of the Association’s centers. Parents showed a strong desire to learn more about Internet safety, and many described the workshop as “informative” and “helpful” and now feel comfortable initiating a discussion about digital safety with their children. As an established nonprofit organization who knows and understands the communities it serves, the Y has the unique ability to help partners connect directly with families.