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Google's new free Interland game will help keep your children safe online by teaching web smarts

"Interland" pits kids vs. Internet bad guys
Posted: 2:52 AM, Jun 08, 2017
Updated: 2017-06-08 09:04:33-04
New game keeps kids safe and smart online

Kaylene is a sweet, curious 10-year-old who loves computers, phones and tablets. The Tampa girl is smart about online safety.

"I will ask my mom before I download an app," Kaylene says.

But a new free game launched by Google shows she still has a lot to learn.

Interland made a splash this week when it was launched as part of a "Be Internet Awesome" campaign to teach kids about web safety and help their parents understand potential pitfalls.

More kids are online without supervision than ever before thanks to mobile devices such as phones, tablets and laptops.

On a computer at the Robert W. Saunders Sr. Public Library, Kaylene uses Interland to navigate through different lands. It teaches her about such things as phishers looking to steal her private information and the strength of passwords. She came up with a creative and strong one: Sm3llyW@ter.

The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative welcomes the Google game. It is paired with their NetSmartz online safety course , which kids must take before using the Library computers.

Interland is a fantasy game mixing questions, video-game skills and retro graphics.

Kaylene found it "very suspicious" when one villain was curious about her birthday and her mother's maiden name. Another claimed to be her "cousin" telling her to click on a suspicious link. Kaylene wasn't falling for it. She also got the point.

Interland is also a primer for parents looking for ways to make their children safer online:

  • Parents should spend time browsing the internet side-by-side with their kids, watching the sites they go to and seeing what information they reveal. Mom and Dad might be in for a surprise.
     
  • If kids suspect anything even remotely suspicious when online, especially when directly contacted by a stranger (be wary of games with social components), they should feel free to tell an adult without fear of getting in trouble. Better to be safe than sorry.
     
  • Parents should have kids create unique passwords for all games. Sorry, Sm3llyW@ter is taken.
     
  • Parents can install all manner of blocks and filters on their children's computers, phones and tablets. On Google's main search page, a parent can block explicit material from appearing by going to the lower right corner on Google.com , clicking on Settings, and turning on SafeSearch.