As parents, we’re constantly urged to teach our kids about internet safety. It’s something we must do — this is clear. But mums and dads need more guidance because, let’s face it, we ourselves are also struggling to navigate the murky waters of the web.
That’s why I’m liking the tools released by Google as part of their Be Internet Awesome program for children. The free online game “Interland” is particularly helpful — I played it and learned a few things about digital safety and citizenship myself.
Interland is an immersive world consisting of four games, each one focusing on a different aspect of online safety.
There’s Reality River, which teaches kids how to spot fake news, recognise the signs of a scam and understand phishing. In Mindful Mountain, players learn the consequences of being an “oversharer” (“Information travels at the speed of light,” the game warns). Kind Kingdom teaches what to do about cyberbullies, and Tower of Treasure helps children learn how to create a strong password.
In end of each of the four lands, players are quizzed on what they’ve learned.
Be Internet Awesome expanded its offerings this week to include new media literacy activities, along with bilingual workshops for parents in partnership with the YMCA. There’s also a family guide to help you practise good digital habits in your everyday lives, tips to help keep your kids safe and a pledge that you can print out have everyone in your home sign.
You might use the tools as a starting point for talking to your kids about digital safety, but know that this discussion should be open and ongoing.
There’s the analogy that giving your kid access to the internet is like handing over your keys to the family car — you wouldn’t do it without telling them exactly how to behave on the road and what dangers to look out for. And for a while at least, you should be sitting right there next to them.