UNDER-PRESSURE Google has come up with a way to encourage child safety and security on the internet.
The idea is to make the "internet awesome". It might be a nice way of avoiding the sort of crap that the Digital Economy Bill has in store, but we doubt it will make much difference there.
At home, though, it is likely to be a handy feature. Not only does it encourage best practices among kids, it also teaches them about the dangers of hackers and phishers and the internet in general.
"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," said Google's Pavni Diwanji in a blog.
"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."
This is all very cosy and nicely timed for the summer, but there is a theme under this that Google isn't mentioning. The firm, and it is not alone, currently has the eye of government on it, and the suggestion that it really, really, really needs to do more to control its content and keep it clean and terror free.
It may have nothing to do with that. Google's offering sounds educational and fun, which is a difficult mix. Kids will earn quality lessons about not over-sharing, not being suckered by con people, and to not be total dicks to one another online.
They also get an online game called Interland. This is free and web-basedm and pits the player against hackers, phishers, and bullies. The game has four worlds with four themes. We played the security one where you have to beat a hacker to picking up letters to make a strong password. It was fun enough.
There are more formal educational things too, thanks to collaboration with the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely.
"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," said 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." µ
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