Teach Your Kids Digital Safety With Google’s ‘Be Internet Awesome’ Program
By Tracey Dowdy
As parents, one of our most significant challenges is teaching our children how to navigate the wild and wonderful web. Part of the problem is simply keeping up with both rapidly changing technology and but understanding the apps and software that seems to come so easily to our kids. Let’s face it, they’re digital natives, so it’s not uncommon for them to be one step ahead of us.
That’s where Google’s “Be Internet Awesome” tools come in. Be Internet Awesome “teaches kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence.”
The tools are separated into several categories with resources for families, educators, digital safety, slide presentations, and Interland, an online game that teaches internet safety and teaches appropriate online behavior.
The resources are based on five principles:
- Be a positive presence online, just like IRL (in real life).
- Think before you post.
- Protect your secrets.
- Donʼt assume that people online will see you the way you think theyʼll see you.
- It’s always important to respect other people’s privacy choices, even if they aren’t the choices you’d make yourself.
The Be Internet Awesome Family Guide provides families with the tools and resources to learn about online safety and digital citizenship together. The lessons are simple, straightforward, and engaging, making it fun to learn how to incorporate positive digital habits into your child’s life. There’s even a pledge you can print off for everyone to sign as a commitment to putting into practice what they learn. There are also bilingual workshops for parents in partnership with the YMCA.
The resources for educators in the Be Internet Awesome curriculum provides the tools and methodology to teach basic digital safety ground rules. Google developed the program in partnership with iKeepSafe enabling educators to bring the most vital aspects of internet safety into the classroom. All elements of Be Internet Awesome are free, align with ISTE standards, require no personal information or login, and can be used across devices and operating systems.
Perhaps of greatest appeal to your child is Interland, an immersive digital world divided into four games, each teaching an aspect of online safety and etiquette. In Mindful Mountain, players learn the consequences of being an “oversharer” with warnings like, “Information travels at the speed of light.” Kind Kingdom teaches children what to do about cyberbullying, and Tower of Treasure shows both the importance of and how to create a strong password. Reality River will teach your kids how to spot fake news, recognize the signs of a scam, and understand phishing.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.