The Internet Is So Dangerous Google Is Now Teaching 10-Year-Olds How to Spot Scams

Can Google work as an online safety teaching tool? Philippe Huguen/Getty Images

Cyberbullies and phishing scams can fool even the most seasoned netizens. So what can tech companies do to help the web’s youngest users spot a scam?

Google is trying to help with “Be Internet Awesome,” a newly released program meant to help children in grades three to five be “smart, alert, strong, kind and brave” online.

The centerpiece of the educational tool is an immersive online game called Interland that teaches kids how to practice online safety. The package also includes a “Digital Citizenship & Safety Curriculum” for teachers and a pledge for parents and families.

Interland features four distinct worlds which stress different aspects of digital safety:

  • In the Tower of Treasure, players need to “outrun the hacker and build an untouchable password” to secure secrets.
  • Mindful Mountain teaches kids how to “be intentional about what you share and with whom.” It includes different tasks and questions designed to avoid oversharing of personal information like medical records.
  • In Kind Kingdom, players must “block and report” cyberbullies to stop them from spreading negativity.
  • “Don’t fall for fake” in Reality River—kids need to use their best judgment to avoid the literal “phisher” lurking in the water.

The curriculum which accompanies the game was a collaboration between Google and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe). It features classroom activities which define complex online terms in ways 10-year-olds can understand.

For example, a digital footprint is “everything on the internet that’s about you” and spear phishing is “when a scammer sends you a message that includes some of your personal information.”

Google’s program also directs kids to go to the “Settings” tab on whatever social networks they use to make sure their posts and other content are only viewed by the right people.

Being “awesome” online is a family affair, however, so the final major piece of Google’s project is a pledge where parents and children can agree to be “safe and fearless explorers of the online world.”

Google worked with several digital safety companies on the program, including iKeepSafe, ConnectSafely and the Family Online Safety Institute.

The Internet Is So Dangerous Google Is Now Teaching 10-Year-Olds How to Spot Scams