The only 2 things on the internet

I have long told my students there are only 2 things on the internet.”


Nothing more, nothing less.

I use this, especially with elementary school students, as a way to explain, simply, the tenets of safe web use.

The only two things on the internet are

  1. Good
  2. Garbage

That’s it. Good and Garbage. Everything falls into those two categories. 

Just as in life you are going to see garbage, but the key is how you respond. I put it to my students like this

  • When you walk down the street do you look at the trash people put out?
  • Do you play in the garbage?
  • Do you call your friends over to play in the garbage?

After a few chuckles, students agree. They don’t play in garbage on the street, they ignore it.

We also talk about the garbage that “falls out of the cans.” We will do our best to prevent seeing garbage on the internet but

  • When walking down the street is it possible to see garbage outside of cans or bags?
  • Is it possible to see something on a pile of trash that is inappropriate?

The answer is, yes, in life not all garbage is neatly tucked away. Same thing with the internet. We aim to prevent and avoid all the garbage, but some will get through. I stress that. It’s a guarantee, no matter how good your filter is

  • You will see garbage on the internet
  • You will see inappropriate things on the internet

The key is, how you react

  • Do you play in the garbage?
  • Do you ignore it and move on?

The key is to move on. And as in life, if a students sees something disturbing or unsettling, they tell an adult. Same thing with the internet. If they see garbage and it’s too unsettling to ignore, they tell an adult. The important thing I stress to them is there are no consequence for reporting garbage. As long as you’re not seeking it out, there is no harm in accidentally stumbling upon it.

Just as in life we somethings see things we weren’t looking for, not wanted to see. We know it happens and we react and move forward appropriately. Same thing with the internet. Reach and more on appropriately.

And at the end of the day, ignore the garbage. Seek the good. Create the good. Share the good. Be the good.

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