Why it matters: Equipping the younger generation with the right skills to maneuver the vast depths of the internet is invaluable. Come to think of it, anyone regardless of age can benefit from a refresher course on how to surf around the web carefully and responsibly. With misinformation, fake news and other dangers lurking on the web, Google has added a new media literacy program to its "Be Internet Awesome" curriculum it launched a few years ago.
Two years ago, Google launched an internet education campaign "Be Internet Awesome" that included a classroom curriculum and a video game called Interland. The company has now made a new addition to the program called media literacy which it has developed in partnership with The Net Safety Collaborative, a non-profit organization that runs a social media helpline for schools.
Media literacy is focused on teaching kids the ability to spot fake news, avoid phishing attacks, identifying fake URLs and evaluating sources. There are six new activities as part of the curriculum, developed with Anne Collier, executive director of The Net Safety Collaborative, and Dr. Faith Rogow, co-author of The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy and a co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education.
Activities like "Share with Care" help kids in maintaining a positive online profile through managing their privacy and protecting personal information. "It's Cool to Be Kind" is focused around online harassment, and "Don't Fall for Fake" is meant to teach critical thinking skills to kids.
Ironically, Google's own YouTube has also been subject to the same issues that its new curriculum aims to raise awareness of. It recently took measures to remove channels with "supremacist and hateful content" and also demonetized anti-vaccination videos on its platform, showing the impact such information can have on the internet.
Targeted mostly at seven to twelve year olds, the new curriculum is available today to interested families and educators and is offered in English, Spanish and eight other languages.