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Google updates its kids online safety curriculum with lessons on gaming, video and more – TechCrunch

Google announced today it’s updating and expanding its digital safety and citizenship curriculum called Be Internet Awesome, which is aimed at helping school-aged children learn to navigate the internet responsibly. First introduced four years ago, the curriculum reaches 30 countries, and millions of kids say Google. In the update rolling out today, Google has added nearly a dozen more lessons for parents and educators that tackle online gaming, search engines, video consumption, empathy, cyberbullying, and more. The company says it had commissioned the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center to evaluate its existing program. It last received a significant update in 2019 when it added lessons that taught kids to spot disinformation and fake news.

Google updates

The review found that the program did help children in areas like dealing with cyberbullying, online civility, and website safety but recommended improvements in other areas. Google then partnered with online safety experts like Committee for Children and The Net Safety Collaborative to revise its teaching materials. As a result, it now has lessons tailored to specific age groups and grade levels and has expanded its subjects and set of family resources. The new lessons include guidance around online gaming, search engines, video consumption, and social-emotional learning lessons aimed at helping students address cyberbullying and online harassment. For example, some new lessons discuss search media literacy — learning how to use search engines like Google’s and evaluating the links and results in its returns as a part of an update to the program’s existing media literacy materials.

Other lessons address issues like practicing empathy online, showing kindness, and what to do when you see something upsetting or inappropriate, including cyberbullying. Concepts related to online gaming are weaved into the new lessons, too. Today, kids have many social interactions in online games, often featuring interacting with other players in real-time and chatting. Here, kids are presented with ideas related to being able to verify an online gamer’s identity — are they really another kid, for example? The materials also explain what private information should not be shared with people online. Among the new family resources, the updated curriculum points parents to the recently launched online hub, Families—Google, which offers several tips and information about tools to help families manage their tech usage.

For example, Google updated its Family Link app that lets parents set controls around which apps can be used and when and view activity reports on screen-time usage. It also rolled out parental control features on YouTube earlier this year. It is aimed at families with tweens and teens who are too old for a YouTube Kids account but still too young for an entirely unsupervised experience. Google says the updated curriculum is available today to parents, families, teachers, and educators via the Be Internet Awesome website.


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