Google announced this morning it’s expanding its two-year-old digital safety and citizenship curriculum for children, “Be Internet Awesome,” to now include media literacy — specifically, the ability to identify so-called “fake news” and other false content. “The company is launching six new media literacy activities for the curriculum that will help teach kids things like how to avoid a phishing attack, what bots are, how to verify that information is credible, how to evaluate sources, how to identify disinformation online, spot fake URLs, and more,” reports TechCrunch. From the report: The courses offer kids not only instruction, but also a combination of activities and discussion starters aimed at helping them develop critical thinking skills when it comes to pursuing online resources. Its overall theme, the course material explains, is to help kids understand that the content they find online isn’t necessarily true or reliable — and it could even involve malicious efforts to steal their information or identity.
The kids learn how phishing works, why it’s a threat, and how to avoid it. They then practice their anti-phishing skills by acting out and discussing reactions to suspicious online texts, posts, friend requests, pictures, and emails. In the following media literacy sections, kids learn what a credible source is, how to figure out what a source’s motives are, and learn that “just because a person is an expert on one thing doesn’t make them an expert on everything.” In a related classroom activity, the kids pick a question related to something they’ve seen online or are learning in class and try to get the answers online, while figuring out if the sources are credible. They also learn to fact check credible sources with other credible sources as a way to look for a variety of sources.