Growing Up in A Connected World

Growing up with access to the internet was interesting to say the least. My parents had the newspaper, where the scams of yesteryear were well known and not that successful at ‘luring’ people in. But when I was growing up, all of that was replaced with the internet. Nobody knew that not all emails came from other friendly internet goers. So with the advent of a completely different platform to scam on, evil-doers leapt at the chance to steal, scrape, and phish valuable information from people. This in turn lead to a half a trillion dollar industry that is growing every year.

I cannot count on both hands the number of people that I know personally, that have been affected by the dangers of the internet. Whether it be some phishing attack that gained control to an account, or a lack of properly setup recovery authentication that lead to the total loss of an account. The dangers are real, and if you don’t know how to dodge them you’ll get hurt.

But not all is lost, and though I’m not an advocate of Google. Their most recent effort to educate children on the dangers of the internet has won them some favor. I introduce Google’s Video Game: Interland.

Click to play.

I am a long time advocate of teaching through games. If you can teach children something valuable without them knowing that they are learning, you’ve done something amazing. While Interland is by no means subtle in what it aims to teach you, it does provide a fairly entertaining way for your kid to learn the do’s and don’ts of the internet.

My school didn’t teach us anything about internet safety. In fact it actually blocked the internet for everyone but teachers until I was in high school, and then only on a white-listed basis. The problem with that is by high school most kids have already been on the internet, meaning that you’d have to re-teach them safety if you so desired.

This game provides a solid first step in what I hope to be a more broad approach to teaching internet safety in schools. Google actually provides course material for teachers. I praise them for doing so because knowing a few public school teachers, I can tell you that at least in America they are underappreciated, underpaid, and understaffed. So things like providing a game and some course materials are a boon to the public education system. I encourage anyone that knows a teacher to share these with them. I know I will.

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