Yesterday, Google launched a new campaign to keep kids safe on the internet. Be Internet Awesome is a collection of tools and online resources to help kids learn how to safely explore the internet and all it has to offer.
There are 5 Fundamentals that Google has chosen for their “Internet Code of Awesome.” Along with these, they have also released an online video through their Be Internet Awesome site called Interland. Let’s break down all these parts.
BE INTERNET SMART
This piece of Google’s Internet puzzle is all about children knowing what to share and who to share it with online. Teaching children how to communicate efficiently and effectively online while being safe is a large stepping stone that many children sometimes learn the hard way by bad interactions online. Google’s quick suggestions include; Encouraging thought sharing and treating online communication like face-to-face interaction, creating guidelines about what is and isn’t inappropriate, and keeping personal details private.
BE INTERNET ALERT
Being alert about potential threats on the internet can be hard for kids who aren’t weary in the ways of online communication. It’s easy to click on a fun flashing ad that says you could win a new Nintendo 3DS if you don’t know any better. That’s why teaching kids to know what to look for in shifty ads and websites is important. Google says “Don’t fall for fake,” and that’s a simple way to explain to children what is and isn’t real online.
BE INTERNET STRONG
Be Internet Strong is all about keeping yourself and your information secure online. This includes putting passwords on everything and making sure they aren’t all the same, as well as safeguarding devices in general.
BE INTERNET KIND
“It’s cool to be kind.” That is Google’s message with this fundamental in being internet awesome. Their anti-bullying message is clear, it’s better to spread positivity than negativity, and it’s important to report those who are bullying others online.
BE INTERNET BRAVE
Teachers have been telling students this for years. “If you see something strange, tell an adult about it.” With Be Internet Brave, it is the same narrative. If you seem something questionable or downright inappropriate on the web, tell a trusted adult and they can (most likely) handle it. Google hopes that children and adults can begin having more open conversations about what goes on online, and children will feel safe telling adults about what they do on the internet.
Now that they have introduced the 5 Fundamentals of being Internet Awesome, what is the best way for these children to implement it and remember it? With a video game, of course! Interland is a free video game that Google implemented with Be Internet Awesome. It consists of four “worlds” that each have to do with one of the fundamentals in the Internet Code of Awesome. It includes a racing game, one in the style of an old SNES Super Mario game, and even trivia. They each add story into the fundamentals.
For example, the “Kind Kingdom” wants you to defeat cyberbullies and restore kindness into the kingdom by distributing positive emoticons to the local townsfolk. I will say, after taking 20 minutes to play Interland, I did have a good time. This game is definitely built for kids and has a strong message attached, but does a good job of making fun, easy, and engaging for school-aged children just learning about the internet.
The game can be played on any browser as well as tablets and mobile devices.
Perhaps the most beneficial part of this entire initiative are the resources that Google has given out for free with this. A 48-page handbook on how to teach children to be safe on the internet for teachers to use is completely free to download and easy to use. Parents can sign a Pledge to encourage their family to stay safe on the internet with another free PDF.
There are plenty of other resources available at their webpage. All are meant to help children be effective communicators online. It’s relatively new, but Google is making strides with their philanthropic ventures.