I often find it challenging to find creative ways to teach Internet safety and responsibility as we live day-to-day as a family. That’s why I’m really excited about something Google has just released.
As part of its Be Internet Awesome campaign, Google has built a website geared towards teaching online safety and responsibility. It’s called Interland. It’s a game designed to help kids become safe, confident explorers of the online world.
And it’s awesome.
Interland invites players to roam around 4 floating islands, with each island teaching a different facet of being responsible online. Google’s goal with the site is to teach and encourage digital citizenship and safety. They have developed five fundamental topics in these areas.
Their Internet Code of Awesome:
- Share with Care (Be Internet Smart)
- Don’t Fall for Fake (Be Internet Alert)
- Secure Your Secrets (Be Internet Strong)
- It’s Cool to Be Kind (Be Internet Kind)
- When in Doubt, Talk It Out (Be Internet Brave)
Interland is a web-based game played inside your browser. It works best on Google Chrome. There are 4 areas of the site, each designed to teach a specific concept.
Share With Care
In Mindful Mountain, Google teaches that what we share online can have a lasting impact – both good and bad. And that the information we share can travel fast. Kids learn what is and isn’t appropriate to share, and that online communication should be treated like face-to-face interactions. They also learn that personal information is private, and not to be shared online.
Don’t Fall for Fake
In Reality River, kids learn that people and situations aren’t always what they seem online. Being able to know what’s real and what’s not when online is a valuable skill we all need. In the game, you answer a series of questions to get across a river. Each question has to do with some concept of privacy and safety.
Secure Your Secrets
In Tower of Treasure, we learn about online privacy and security. Concepts like strong passwords and the protection of personal information help kids avoid damaging their devices and their relationships.
It’s Cool to be Kind
In Kind Kingdom, kids learn the concept “treat others like you want to be treated.” Google teaches this by encouraging kids to speak out against bullying, to stop the spread of harmful or untrue messages, and to use the power of the Internet to spread positivity.
The best thing they teach as part of their program is something that I’ve been saying all along. When kids see things they are uncertain of or have questions about, they should have a trusted adult in their life they can talk about it with. Google’s list of situations like this are below:
- They suspect that their account may have been compromised.
- They need help from a trusted adult remembering a password.
- They are unsure whether something is a scam, or suspect they might have fallen for one.
- Someone tries to discuss something online with them that makes them uncomfortable.
- They receive suspicious contact from a stranger.
- They want to discuss online acts of kindness and unkindness.
- They are concerned that they may have shared something online that they should not have.
It’s certainly not comprehensive, but it’s a great launching point for parents and kids to start a discussion. Google and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition have also developed a curriculum around the program. It was created to be used in schools, but can certainly be adapted for use at home with your children, or as part of a homeschool program. You can find it at Google’s Interland site, or download it directly here.
Be Internet Awesome
I love that a company like Google is leading the way in educating and empowering the next generation on Internet safety. As parents, it’s our job to teach our kids and raise them to be responsible, informed adults. The only way to do so is to be informed ourselves about the Internet and how to navigate it safely and responsibly. I would encourage you to play the game with your kids, and talk to them about the concepts it teaches.
If you have any questions about Internet safety, or have issues you are dealing with online, please contact me and I’ll help in any way I can.
Be Internet Awesome! 🙂