by Larry Magid
Lecturing kids about internet safety has never been a good strategy. Conversations help, but engaging children in ways that are fun can have a much bigger impact. That’s why ConnectSafely is proud to partner with Google on its new Be Internet Awesome program, a fun way to help kids learn about internet safety, privacy and security. Other Be Internet Awesome partners are the Family Online Safety Institute and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition.
The game takes children to Interland, a magical place brimming with “both awesome and blahsome surprises.” Your assignment, “embark on a quest to become a fearless explorer of the online world.”
Interland is made up of Mindful Mountain (share with care), Tower of Treasure, Kind Kingdom, Reality River (don’t fall for fake) and each one of these sections is its own interactive video game aimed at young children. It’s web-based so there is no need to download or install any software.
When I was first briefed about this, folks at Google pointed out that there are very few modern, research-based and well made resources to educate young children about internet safety. To illustrate this point, they showed me some of the most popular resources out there and, ironically, one of them was called Online Safety Quiz. I laughed because that’s on my site, SafeKids.com and it was created by my son Will Magid when he was 10 years old, based on my 1993 booklet, Child Safety on the Information Highway, published by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Will is now 30, so neither of us feels bad about having our 20-year-old webpage superseded by one that’s a lot more interactive and up-to-date.
Be Internet Awesome is more than just fun and games for kids. There is a curriculum that educators or parents can download as well as a page with some excellent advice that parents can share with their children about the main topics covered in the program:
- 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)
Google’s new resource is an excellent addition to the handful of other great materials for young people including NCMEC’s NetSmartzKids and the National PTA’s SmartTalk, both of which are also ConnectSafely partners.
Together, we can not only be “Internet Awesome,” but help make the internet even more awesome for all of us.