I will be using situations from the new movie Ralph Breaks the Internet as examples in this post. So, if you do not want parts of the movie spoiled for you please stop reading. 🙂 I don’t give away the movie, but some people don’t like any spoilers at all. Haha!
Family Movie Night
We recently had a family movie night and had the pleasure of watching Ralph Breaks the Internet. We are a huge Disney family, and loved the first Wreck it Ralph movie. So, we were so excited to see the second. My husband and I were a little surprised that we found Ralph Breaks the Internet to have some creepy/scary moments. (Especially when all of the virus Ralph’s morphed into the one huge Ralph.) But, after watching the movie I was in awe of how well I think Disney replicated what the internet is. It also gave me great talking points and examples to share with my kids when I talk to them about the internet, and online safety.
The Internet Is A Fickle Beast
The internet never sleeps. It is 24/7, and always changing. Ralph learns this when he meets Yesss and starts to dabble in making small videos to raise money to purchase the game controller to fix Vanellopes game. A video of him is uploaded and goes viral, but within hours it’s already trending downwards.
Things can go viral in the blink of an eye, and then tank just as fast. Because we are on the internet so much, and some use it as a source of income we can get caught up in the likes/follower’s game. And it can affect some people. They get depressed, and a lot of times it causes people to have to take “breaks” from being online.
The Lesson: We need to remember and teach our children to live outside of the likes/follower’s game. Just because someone has millions of followers doesn’t mean they have millions of friends. The internet is a tool that can help us with things in life. It is not life.
What You Say Matters
The part in the movie where Ralph discovers the comments section broke my heart. Words hurt, and sometimes they can hurt more than physical pain. Even if you try and delete something that you said it can live on forever. It takes nothing for someone to screen shot, or scroll through your comment history, of what you post or write on the internet. (That is why you see so many people digging up social media posts or comments from people that are years old.)
It is also much easier for people to say hateful and hurtful things on the internet because they aren’t physically talking to someone face to face. They are just clicking away on their key board without even thinking twice. I am surprised there were no comment “trolls” in the movie. (Could have been hilarious.)
The Lesson: We need to teach our kids to be respectful to others while online. (We need to also be respectful as well.) While we may not be able to physically see a person to whom we are speaking to an actual human is reading our comments. Kids and adults alike need to get into the habit of re-reading what they type before posting. Sometimes intonation can be lost when you write something. (Especially with short hand writing.) Leaving the reader to have to decipher what it is exactly you have written, and what it means. More often than not if a person re-reads what they have typed up they will change what they have written.
The Internet Can Be a Scary Place – Proceed with Caution
There are so many great things about the internet, but there are just as many bad things about it as well. Ralph got a chance to visit the dark web on his quest to procure a virus in the movie and Disney did a great job creating a cartoon version of this part of the internet. But it’s not just the dark web that is scary on the internet. It is scary that people can post video’s that are being marketed as kid friendly content when in all actuality they are not.
The Lesson: Not everything on the internet is cute puppy video’s, and we need to proceed with caution. (Kind of like teaching our kids self-defense, but for the internet.) We need to remember and teach our kids to be aware of their virtual surroundings. Not to click on links they are unsure about, and to not converse with strangers that randomly message them. I am a big advocate of parental controls for young kids, and then as they grow, we need to talk with them about internet “trolls”, scammers, phishing emails, stalkers, etc. It’s not fun, but it must be done.
If I could go back in time, I probably would have not shown Ralph Breaks the Internet to my 3-year-old, but I am still glad we watched it. As a parent I know I will not be able to protect my kids forever. I mean they do eventually/hopefully grow up, and move out. Haha! But it is my job as a parent to teach them and give them the knowledge/tools they will need to survive, and be a good human in the world. 🙂