It was a good Internet Safety Month (June) this year! Did you know that nowadays children as young as 7 years old have their own smartphones/digital devices and about 90% have had access to the Internet since the age of 9 or younger?

child playing on phone

That said, it’s crucial to educate your kids on the importance of online safety before letting them loose in the digital world. There’s a lot to see and learn from the Internet; I’m not going to deny it’s incredibly useful and chock full of resources about every single topic imaginable. Unfortunately, this includes even the not-so-appropriate ones.

But just how should you go about approaching such a heavy and serious topic with your young ones? And where do you start? Online predators, scammers, phishers, hackers, cyberbullies... I’m sure I can’t be the only one who worried about what to tackle first with my kids!

(If you’ve talked to your kids about online safety already or plan to do it soon, I’d love to hear how/when you plan to do it! I’ve gone over practically everything so far with my kids, but I still remind them about it once in a while, and more tips are always great on how to do so is always helpful in my opinion.)

I have good news for all you parents out there! Thanks to Google, it’s becoming easier to start a conversation about online safety with your child.

If you haven’t heard yet, the innovative people over at Google have released an online game called Interland, in which players can explore four floating island worlds full of puzzles, mini-games, and challenges related to online safety. And did I mention it’s free? (Because it absolutely is. I encourage you and your kids to check it out here.)

Interland mini-game

One of the many mini-games in Interland. In this one, players have to send messages to appropriate recipients (and avoid scammers, hackers, and potential online predators), to win the game.*

The game is just one part of Google’s "Be Internet Awesome,” initiative, which is a classroom curriculum and computer game program that aims to promote educational materials about Internet safety for students in the third to fifth grades. According to a research study on Internet safety by the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), cyberbullying “peaks in middle school, which is when online exchange of sex-related content begins.” Google’s Interland, then, is a great way to start talking to your child about online safety in the crucial few years before they enter middle school.

“Don’t walk down dark alleys alone at night!”

We say these things because we want to protect our kids from whatever lurks out there in the big bad world. So why are we so unconcerned about letting our kids tumble and play on the digital playground alone? Would you ever leave your little kid alone on a real playground? (I hope not.)

So don’t glaze over online safety education! If you’re unsure of where to start, try out Interland, where your child will be outrunning hackers to collect letters for a strong password, battling cyberbullies with positivity in “Kind Kingdom,” and more. This colorful and creative game will be both entertaining and educational for all kids (and their parents) venturing into the digital world for the first time.

Interland mini-game

Kill them (cyberbullies) with kindness in Kindness Kingdom!*

I can’t wait to test this out with my kids! (Honestly, I’m tempted to play along with them...) Let me know what you and your kids think about Interland in the comments!

For more information on online safety, check out this Parents’ Survival Guide to Online Safety by KidGuard.

Author's Bio: 

KidGuard's sole mission is to protect your children online. Our team spends every waking hour thinking about how to bring awareness and inspire solutions on issues of cyber bullying, online predators, teen suicide, and childhood depression in the age of technology. KidGuard employs a team of researchers and writers to educate parents on solutions to digital parenting problems and also runs a popular child cell phone monitoring software to allow parents to stay involved in their child's life online.