Media literacy

Some People Think the Internet is Broken. Can Google Help Kids Fix It?

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The internet may be broken.

On one hand, we have instant access to a wealth of information, friends, and entertainment. But on the other hand, we are swimming in a sea of dubious content, shady characters, and platforms that are constantly playing whack-a-mole against offensive postings.

This is particularly problematic for the youngest users–internet-enabled kids being raised by dial-up parents. In an effort to help kids be empowered and informed users online, educators and organizations across the country (and globe) have been promoting online safety, digital citizenship, and media literacy programs.

Now Google is stepping up with its “Be Internet Awesome” campaign, which includes an array of resources and a corresponding video game.

“I couldn’t imagine what the world we be like without the Internet today,” says one of the children featured in Google’s Be Internet Awesome campaign video. His sentiment appears to be the overarching theme that we are entering a new normal where the internet is moving from a novelty to a given. But have we adjusted accordingly?

The difficulty with programs promoting online safety and digital citizenship is that they can sometimes fall into the “eat your broccoli” or stranger/danger camp, which may limit their effectiveness and buy-in. Google, and others, need to walk a fine balance between promoting the benefits of an interconnected global community and also making users aware of the dangers. The “Be Internet Awesome” bridges this duality by focusing on a holistic digital citizen–a balance between protective skills and being adequately informed and engaged.

The free Be Internet Awesome resources are designed to educate kids about issues such as protecting passwords, not falling for fake news or scams, and being kind online. For both the curriculum and the corresponding game, kids go…