New Google programme may help kids fight trolls, hackers

June 8, 2017

Google announced a new educational programme designed to teach children about internet safety issues such as phishing, internet harassment and passwords, the company said in a blogpost.

The programme — called ‘Be Internet Awesome’ — includes a classroom curriculum and a video game called Interland.

“For kids to really make the most of the web, we need to provide guidance as they learn to make their own smart decisions online,” Pavni Diwanji, vice-president of engineering for kids and families, said in a Google blogpost on Tuesday.

“With school out and summer break giving kids more time to spend on the internet, it’s a great time to introduce Be Internet Awesome: a new way to encourage digital safety and citizenship,” Diwanji added.

The programme includes sections on how to limit sharing personal information with people online, avoid falling for scams or phishing attacks, creating strong passwords, and avoiding negative behaviour online as well as has a ‘Be Internet Awesome Pledge’ that the students can sign.

Interland, the accompanying video game, seems less like a training tool and more like a sweetener that could get students interested in the material. Interland also uses a low-poly aesthetic that will be familiar to Daydream virtual reality (VR) users.

The programme was developed in collaboration with online safety experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely.

It includes a range of specific resources for kids, educators and parents, so everyone has the tools they need to learn and participate in the conversation.

The programme is compliant with International Society for Technology in Education standards, awarded to programs that promote a range of tech-savvy skills, said on Tuesday.

‘Be Internet Awesome’ is the latest in Google’s string of educational programmes, which range from promoting Chromebooks in the classroom to offering virtual reality field trips through Google Cardboard.


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