With a growing number of digital tools entering the classroom, it is now more important than ever to make sure kids know how to navigate the internet. This is likely why two of the biggest champions of ed tech — Google and ISTE — have teamed up to create a new way to teach digital citizenship, with games.
Be Internet Awesome, a program developed in concert with the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely, educates kids about digital citizenship in interactive ways, including an online game.
“To help kids learn these lessons in a way that’s fun and immersive, we created an interactive, online game called 'Interland',” writes Google’s Vice President of Engineering for Kids and Families Pavni Diwanji in a blog post. “In this imaginary world of four lands, kids combat hackers, phishers, oversharers and bullies, practicing skills they need to be good digital citizens.”
With summer break in full swing and a recent survey indicating that 47 percent of kids aged 4 to 13 play digital games every day, Diwanji seems right to believe that now is the best time to approach kids with game-based digital civility lessons.
Using Games to Navigate a Tricky Topic
“There are certain topics that can only be taught in an interactive way,” Vadim Polikov, the founder of Legends of Learning, a company that creates science games, tells EdTech. “As a teacher, I can talk about gravity all day long, but if the students play the game and experience it, they understand it.”
Be Internet Awesome’s interactive game aims to teach kids five key components of digital citizenship:
- Be Internet Smart and think before sharing
- Be Internet Alert and don’t fall for fake news
- Be Internet Strong and keep personal information private
- Be Internet Kind and stay nice online
- Be Internet Brave and speak if you see something bad
For example, in Kind Kingdom, one of the lands in the Interland game, negativity is contagious and spread by cyberbullies. To beat the world, students must travel to the top of a mountain by stopping the bullies and spreading positivity to those infected.
Diwanji writes that, with the help of ISTE and its Standards for Students, Google was also able to develop classroom curriculum and resources for parents to keep the conversation about digital citizenship thriving.
“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,” Carolyn Sykora, ISTE’s senior director of standards, tells Google.