While many people are understandably more than a little concerned about the colossal power wielded by Google and its influence on what we see, think and believe, it has to be said that sometimes they do create some pretty amazing tools for us all to use for our favourite price (free). As such, it was with great excitement that we learned of Interland, an interactive game created by Google to support online safety and digital citizenship. So… is it a hit or a miss?
‘BeInternetAwesome’ welcomes children to Interland, ‘a magical place brimming with both awesome and blahsome surprises’. Note: we had to Google ‘blahsome’ and, according to the Urban Dictionary, blahsome is defined as ‘a random statement usually made in exasperation or when there is nothing else to really say’. And with that, children are encouraged to embark on a quest to become ‘a fearless explorer of the online world’.
With light, lively music and colourful animated graphics, children are presented with four realms to explore within Interland:
- Reality River, where they will consider how the difference between fact and fiction, to judge whether things are really as they seem, and to be aware of people phishing for their information.
- Mindful Mountain, where children will consider what they share and with whom, and to consider the dangers of oversharing.
- Tower of Treasures, where the focus is on Internet security and consideration of keeping passwords safe and secure to avoid the risk of hackers.
- Kind kingdom, where children learn about the blocking online bullies and about making positive contributions to online communities.
As an activity within an online safety scheme, BeInternetAwesome and the Interland game could certainly have their parts to play, particularly for younger children. Students will find the games engaging and it would provide an opportunity for worthwhile discussions on the topics covered. It is hard not to feel that this has been a little bit of an opportunity missed as in parts the gameplay takes too much precedence over the learning of digital citizenship. This is exemplified in the Mindful Mountain activity which feels like a Mathematics activity on reflection and could be completed with little consideration of the message the resource aims to deliver. However, this minor grip is more than compensated for by the free curriculum resources Google have provided to use alongside the game.
In summary, Interland is well worth using as a fun activity with younger classes and as a jumping-off point for discussions about online safety. Particularly when used alongside the free curriculum resources, this is certainly worth looking at in KS2 and lower KS3.
You can access Google’s BeInternetAwesome resources including the Interland game here.