June is Internet Safety Month, and Google is marking the occasion by launching an educational program that teaches children everything from staying safe online to dealing with cyberbullies and social media accounts. “Be Internet Awesome” comes with a classroom curriculum and a video game called Interland.
Google worked alongside several online safety groups when creating the program, including the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, and Connect Safely. Teachers and YouTubers also helped with the development (author and video blogger John Green is promoting it).
Aimed at kids aged from eight to 12, it deals with online situations that people of all ages may face, including thoughtful sharing, being wary of what or who is fake, general security, internet etiquette, and more.
Interland, a free game that’s playable on all major browsers, is set among four floating islands that feature different challenges all related to various aspects of online security and safety. One section, an endless runner-style game, teaches the importance of a strong password – a vital lesson, given that most people still use “123456.”
"To really make the most of the web, we need more than just helpful products: we need to provide guidance as our kids learn to make their own smart decisions online," wrote vice president of engineering for kids and families at Google, Pavni Diwanji, in a blog post.
The responses from those who pilot tested the program have been overwhelmingly positive. With extra resources such as a Certificate of Awesomeness and Badges available, Google’s software seems to make the often dry subject of internet safety fun for kids.