Cartoon Dog Teaches Kids About Internet Safety

Ruff Ruffman is on a quest to teach elementary school children how to be technology smart.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: November 26, 2014, 11 a.m. PST

The most important rule we were probably taught as kids was not to talk to strangers. That meant the people we didn’t know that we encountered in our everyday lives, from the mailman to the grocery store cashier to random people we happened to pass by on our walk home from school. If we didn’t know them, we weren’t supposed to talk to them.

Nowadays, the "don’t talk to strangers” rule doesn’t just apply to the people our kids see in person. It also now applies to the countless strangers children may come across online. What may start as an Internet search for help with a school report might turn into something completely different. How do parents go about making their children aware of possible dangers while also not scaring them away from the vast amount of valuable information and resources technology offers them?

There are probably several options that could work, but I’ve always been a firm believer in expressing the idea in a way children will understand, without talking down to them. That’s where Ruff Ruffman comes in. Previously on Fetch!, the cartoon dog is now part of a new cartoon called Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius. The cartoon, which streams on YouTube and the PBS Kids website, informs children of how to be safe with technology, photos, texting and searching the Internet. There will be quizzes, interactive games and other resources to help children understand the issues in the videos. The website’s forum allows parents to share experiences and advice on how to handle children and technology.

When trying to decide which issues the show would tackle, WGBH surveyed over 4,000 children and 250 parents. They also worked with child development and media experts, according to Fast Company. Ruff Ruffman then answers some of the kids’ questions in a way they will understand.

But the goal isn’t just to warn kids of the dangers of technology. The show wants kids to understand the benefits as well.

"We’re definitely not trying to scare them off the Internet any more than you would scare a kid off a bicycle," Shribman told Fast Company. "You just wouldn’t teach kids how to use their bikes on a major highway. Ultimately, you want them to be independent riders going off and exploring the world safely on their own."

Who better to learn about Internet safety than from a cartoon dog?

What do you think of the Ruff Ruffman videos for kids? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

11/27/2014 6:49:46 AM

Great message to kids! I am not sure I like Ruff but it does not matter if I like him it is more important the message get across. I think kids should be the ones to give input on these videos.

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