As a parent, I’m constantly talking with my two daughters about how they use the Internet. The way they use it to explore, create and learn inspires me to do my best work at Google, where I lead a team making products that help families and kids have positive experiences online. But for kids to really make the most of the web, we need more than just helpful products: We need to provide guidance as they learn to make their own smart decisions online.
This is one of the most significant issues that we all face as a new generation grows up with the Internet at their fingertips. It’s critical that the most influential people in our kids’ lives—parents and teachers, especially—help kids learn how to be smart, positive and kind online, just like we teach them to be offline. It's something we all need to reinforce together.
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.
Developed in collaboration with online safety experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely, Be Internet Awesome focuses on five key lessons to help kids navigate the online world with confidence:
- Be Internet Smart: Share with care
- Be Internet Alert: Don’t fall for fake
- Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
- Be Internet Kind: It's cool to be kind
- Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out
The program 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.
For kidsTo help kids learn these lessons in a way that’s fun and immersive, we created an interactive, online game called Interland. It’s free and web-based so it’s easily accessible by everyone, and most importantly, it’s in a format kids already love. In this imaginary world of four lands, kids combat hackers, phishers, oversharers and bullies, practicing the skills they need to be good digital citizens.
We partnered with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and educators across the country to create a classroom curriculum that brings the five principles of being Internet Awesome to life, at school. To practice being Internet Alert, for example, students can work together to identify whether websites and emails contain signs of a phishing attempt. The lesson plans, activities and worksheets align with the International Society for Technology in Education’s Standards for Students, which educators look toward to define skills for safe and positive action online.
“Building these skills in our students will require ongoing attention as new technologies pose challenges and opportunities for students both at home and at school,” says Carolyn Sykora, Senior Director of Standards at ISTE. “Be Internet Awesome provides materials educators and parents can use to help students learn about online safety in a fun and engaging way.”
After reviewing the game and curriculum, ISTE has awarded Be Internet Awesome its Seal of Alignment for Readiness. Educators can find the curriculum on the Be Internet Awesome resource hub, or as part of a new online course in the Google for Education Training Center.
For parents and guardians
Without some guidance, having a meaningful conversation about digital safety and respect at home can be really hard. These are sensitive topics and parents may not know where to start. To help make starting the conversation easier, we teamed up with a group of YouTube creators, including John Green, the What’s Inside? Family and MinutePhysics, to launch the #BeInternetAwesome Challenge, a video series that makes talking about online safety fun and accessible. Families can reinforce important lessons at home by signing the Be Internet Awesome Pledge to stay smart, alert, strong, kind and brave online.