It’s hard out there for a kid on the internet.
Google gets that, and thinks it’s high time children start learning about the dangers of phishing, internet harassment, and other online safety and privacy issues. You know, normal kid stuff.
So what exactly does the educational program do?
Be Internet Awesome was developed in collaboration with online safety experts to ensure parents and educators have the tools necessary to teach children to look out for themselves online.
With internet usage playing such a ubiquitous role in our daily lives, the program educates on topics relevant to all age groups, focusing on the following areas:
Be Internet Smart: Share with care
Be Internet Alert: Dont fall for fake
Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
Be Internet Kind: It’s cool to be kind
Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out
The classroom curriculum includes lesson plans, activities, and key discussion points about digital citizenship, along with short quizzes to measure learning.
Interland, on the other hand, takes children into a fictional world comprised of four lands where they can tackle phishers, hackers, bullies, and over-sharers in a fun way.
A promo video for Interland shows players being asked questions like “What can you do to prevent accounts from being hacked?” Answering correctly, with “sinking fishers” earns points, and lets the player advance in the game.
Google’s past efforts to help children
Though this age-targeted internet training is new, Google has been working to make its programs and products inclusive to the younger age demographic for years, even attempting to teach kids to code.
In March 2017, the company made its online services available to children under the age of 13 with the new tool, Family Link. The app, geared towards families, allows parents to manage what content their children access on their devices through Google services like Gmail, Maps, and Chrome so that parents can deep whats appropriate and safe for their children to engage with.
Do the kids really need this?
In the past, a UK study published in the Journal of Pediatrics interviewed 515 British adolescents and their parents about internet filters and their success. The study found that teens with filters enabled still had their fair share of bad online experiences, ranging from being contacted by strangers to password/identity theft.
In short, certain internet restrictions are not consistently effective and simply filtering content doesn’t always work. Perhaps Google thought that rather than continuing to limit usage, it would be better to start educating children at a young age in a way that doesn’t bore them about how to maturely manage and navigate the vast black hole of terrifying and ridiculous content that is the internet.
And some kindness internet training may have seriously come in handy for the ten high school graduates who had their Harvard acceptances revoked after they were found sharing offensive memes on Facebook.
Godspeed you tech-savvy youths.