Tag Archives: families

Helping kids learn to evaluate what they see online

Editor’s Note: This week we're launching six new media literacy activities for Be Internet Awesome, designed to help kids analyze and evaluate media as they navigate the internet. The new activities were developed in collaboration with experts Anne Collier, executive director of The Net Safety Collaborative, and Faith Rogow, PhD, co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy and a co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education.

As a reading specialist and former high school English teacher, I’ve witnessed technology enhance our lives in and out of the classroom. But that comes with lots of challenges, like learning to communicate responsibly, being kind online and deciphering what is real and what is fake. We need the right tools and resources to help kids make the most of technology, and while good digital safety and citizenship resources exist for families, more can be done for media literacy. I’ve worked alongside dozens of educators who believe that media literacy is essential to safety and citizenship in the digital age, but agree that it’s a topic that can be tough to cover.

Fortunately, the new media literacy lessons developed for Be Internet Awesome make it easy and fun for kids to learn key skills for evaluating what they see online. These lessons complement the program’s digital safety and citizenship topics, which help kids explore the online world in a safe, confident manner.

Be Internet Awesome is like an instruction manual for making smart decisions online. Kids today need a guide to the internet and media just as they need instruction on other topics. We need help teaching them about credible sources, the power of words and images and more importantly, how to be smart and savvy when seeing different media while browsing the web.

All of these resources are not only available for classrooms, but also free and easily accessible for families as well. They’re in both English and in Spanish, along with eight other languages, and if you’d like to get some hands-on training as well, Google is partnering with the YMCA and National PTA across multiple cities to host online safety workshops.

I encourage parents to take advantage of these resources and the new activities on media literacy. Let’s not only teach kids, but also inspire, educate and empower families to make tech work better for them as well.

Find your balance with new Digital Wellbeing tools

Google I/O is always exciting for me. It’s a great moment when we get to tell the world about a wide range of new products and features that can help everyone do more with technology. Because of how intertwined tech is with every aspect of our lives, how we balance its use with our wellbeing has to be front and center. So, as we did last year, we made time to discuss how our users can find a balance by using technology more intentionally (and that might mean using it less).

Last year, we announced our commitment to digital wellbeing, a company-wide effort to help our users balance their technology use in a way that feels right for them. The idea has taken hold. A recent survey we commissioned found that 1 in 3 Americans have taken steps to improve their digital wellbeing in the last year, and more than 80 percent of them said this had a positive impact on their overall sense of wellbeing.

It’s still early, but we’re already seeing that some of our initial Digital Wellbeing features have helped people take control of their tech use. For instance, app timers have helped people stick to their goals over 90 percent of the time, according to our internal data from March of this year, and people who use Wind Down had a 27 percent drop in nightly usage on average.

Android Digital Wellbeing: Tools for balance

Coming to Android Q

We know there’s much more we can be doing, which is why we were excited to announce a number of new tools and features at I/O last week. We’re making several improvements to existing features, such as giving you more visibility into the status of your app timers, and allowing Wind Down to be scheduled by day of the week. And, building on the success of app timers, we’re extending its functionality to Chrome on Android, which will let you to set time limits on specific websites.

Our devices should help support our intentions throughout the day. Whether it’s work, school or family and friends that we want to focus on, our devices shouldn’t get in the way. Notifications are an important part of keeping you informed, but not all of them are urgent enough to divert your attention. Now you can choose to make some notifications ‘Gentle’. Gentle notifications won’t make noise, vibrate or appear on the lock screen but are always available if you want to browse.

And we created Focus mode, which allows you to temporarily pause distracting apps with a single tap from Quick Settings. Finally, because many people want more positive encouragement, we’re adding the ability  to set a screen time goal with helpful nudges to stay on track.

AndroidQ_Focus Mode.gif

New features for families

For parents, screen time is often a unique challenge; in fact, according to a recent study commissioned by Google, 67 percent of parents are concerned about the amount of time their kids spend on devices. People with kids tell us they love that Family Link lets them set daily screen time limits, but we know that nothing about parenting is black and white. We announced last week that Family Link will roll out new features that enable parents to fine-tune these boundaries by setting app-specific time limits and awarding bonus screen time directly from their own device. (We hope this will also help provide a little balance to family dynamics.)

But tools and features are just part of the solution; for families in particular, communication is key. So on wellbeing.google, we now offer tips and advice from experts, including a conversation guide to help parents talk to their kids about technology use.

We believe technology should improve life, not distract from it, so we’ve made a company-wide commitment to prioritize our users’ satisfaction over the amount of time they spend with our products, and our teams are designing with digital wellbeing as a core principle. We’re focused on improving lives—today and in the future—and digital wellbeing is one of the most important ways we’re working to make that happen.

Redefine reading practice with Rivet

Reading is one of the most important skills students will learn in their lives. After the third grade, students who have mastered reading use it to learn just about everything else. Struggling readers, on the other hand, are unlikely to catch up and four times less likely to graduate from high school. Unfortunately, 64 percent of fourth grade students in the United States perform below the proficient level in reading.

Rivet is a new reading app from Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental projects, that addresses the most common barriers to effective reading practice through a free, easy-to-use reading experience optimized for kids. Evidence shows that one of the major differences between poor and strong readers is the amount of time spent reading, so we're introducing Rivet to make high-quality reading practice available to all.

Improving access to books

With a rapidly growing digital library of over 2,000 free books, Rivet makes it easy to find interesting reading material at the right level. There are engaging books covering a wide array of topics, from planets in outer space to Harriet Tubman. Every book in our library is carefully reviewed and leveled by content quality experts to ensure young readers are shown appropriate content at the right level of difficulty.

A screenshot of the Rivet app, showing a library collection of books to choose from

A knowledgeable reading buddy

Rivet uses advanced speech technology to provide support on every word and give kids feedback on their reading, so they can practice independently without getting stuck. Here are a few Rivet features you can try out during reading practice:

  • Tap for Help: Stuck on a word? Just tap to hear it pronounced.
  • Say the Word: Kids can practice reading a word and the app will show them exactly which parts of the word were said correctly and which parts they need to work on.
  • Definitions and Translations: Definitions are available for every word, along with translations into more than 25 languages for non-native speakers.

A screenshot showing the Definitions and Translations feature in Rivet, showing the word "start" defined and pronounced on the screen.
  • Follow Along: Rivet can read full-pages aloud on a selection of books, highlighting each word as it’s read so kids can follow along. (Parents have the option to disable this feature.)
  • Real-time Feedback: On Android (and coming soon to iOS), Rivet can provide even more real-time help. Just tap the microphone icon and read the page aloud—the app will follow along and proactively offer support if it detects a reader struggling. At the end of the page, readers can see which words were read correctly, and try again on the words they missed. All speech processing is performed on-device to respect your child’s privacy.
A screenshot depicting the Real-time Feedback feature, where a paragraph is read out loud to the reader.

Motivation and encouragement

It takes hard work and plenty of patience to master reading. Rivet rewards dedication with points and badges, and personalizes the experience with avatars, themes and recommended books based on each reader’s level and interests. Surprises designed to encourage more practice, energizing games and a playful interface keep kids engaged in the reading experience.

A screenshot showing the "rewards" page after three days in a row of reading practice, with a cat in sunglasses and the words, "Yay! You did it! You've read 3 days in Rivet!"

Our goal is to deliver high-quality reading practice to children everywhere, along with peace of mind for the busy parents accompanying them on their reading journey. In the upcoming months, we’ll introduce features to support reading practice in classrooms, add new content for a wider range of reading levels and expand to more countries around the world.

Rivet is now available on Android smartphones, tablets, iPads, iPhones and Chromebooks in eleven countries worldwide. If you know a little reader who could benefit from better reading practice, check us out in the Play Store or App Store today.

The evolution of Family Link parental controls

It’s been two years since we built Family Link to help parents introduce their kids to technology. And while the devices we use every day open the door for families to explore, learn and play together online, they can also bring a new set of worries for parents. Over the past two years, we've helped families across the globe set digital ground rules with the Family Link app: A tool that offers parents a way to create and supervise Google Accounts for their kids, manage the content they see online and the amount of time spent on their devices.

Available on every Android device

Today at Google I/O, we announced we’ll be making Family Link part of every Android device, starting with Android Q. This means that Family Link will be accessible from device settings, making setup even smoother for families. Look for it under the setting “Digital Wellbeing and parental controls” in Android Q devices rolling out later this summer.

App-specific time limits and bonus screen time

We’re also giving parents the ability to set app-specific time limits, Since not all screen time is created equal, parents will soon be able to set app-specific time limits to help kids make better choices about how they’re spending time on their device. And while parents love that they can set a bedtime or daily screen time limit, sometimes kids just need a few more minutes to finish up what they’re doing on their devices. Soon, parents will be able to give kids bonus screen time directly from their own device.

A foundation for healthy digital habits

Since 2017, we’ve heard your feedback loud and clear: 67 percent of parents are worried about the amount of time their kids are spending on devices. In addition to today’s updates, we’ve been focused on making sure that time spent on making sure that the time your family spends on technology is the best it can possibly be. Here are a few ways we’ve done that:

  • While Family Link was originally designed for kids under 13, we heard from parents that the app was still useful as their kids became teenagers. Last year, we rolled out the ability for parents around the world to use Family Link to supervise their teen’s existing Google Account. Beyond mobile phones, we added better Chromebook support so parents and children can use Family Link across different Google platforms. 
  • When apps come with a stamp of approval from a teacher, parents can feel more at ease knowing their children are engaging in healthy, educational content online. That’s why we have teacher recommendations: a collection of educational Google Play apps recommended by teachers that are a good fit for children of specific ages.
  • Families can learn, play and imagine together with the Assistant on Google Home, other smart speakers and eligible phones with over 50 games, activities, and stories designed for families with kids. 

Be sure to check out the latest updates and if you want to share your ideas with us, just open the Family Link app, click the menu in the top left corner and tap “Help and feedback.”

Teaming up with partners to make the internet safer for kids

Editor’s note: Tomorrow is Safer Internet Day, and we’ll be talking about it all week with a collection of posts from teams around Google.

A year and a half ago, we launched the Be Internet Awesome program to help kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world. We built a little something for everyone: a curriculum for teachers, resources for parents and an adventure-packed online game for kids. And we couldn’t have done it without help from partners like the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), National PTA, the David's Legacy Foundation, and Disney’s Wreck It Ralph film “Ralph Breaks the Internet.”

This year’s Safer Internet Day theme is "Together for a better internet." That's something we can really get behind—joining forces with other organizations to help make the internet safer for everyone, especially younger kids. We’re kicking off a week of announcements, starting in San Antonio with the Be Internet Awesome adventure, a bilingual interactive space designed with hands-on activities to help kids and families learn the fundamental lessons of online safety and citizenship.

BIAsa

There are also a bunch of new updates to the Be Internet Awesome program, including:

  • A partnership with the David’s Legacy Foundation to create a program empowering teens to mentor and teach younger kids that it’s cool to be kind online (launching later this year)
  • The launch of Be Internet Awesome in France tomorrow as “Les Super-héros du Net”
  • Teaming up with the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Ralph Breaks the Internet  (recently nominated for an Academy Award©) to encourage more families to practice online safety and digital citizenship with Wreck It Ralph
  • A Be Internet Awesome guide and set of tips designed specifically to help parents foster a conversation with their kids about using the Internet safely

Working with the community to help kids stay safe online

Today in San Antonio, we hosted a panel with our partners to discuss our latest research, conducted with 2,000 parents and 1,000 teachers in the US, to better understand how they view internet safety for kids. We’re sharing the results today—here are a few themes from the panel that stood out:

Cyberbullying is a rising concern in schools

This year, cyberbullying rose to the number one online safety concern for teachers (up from number four last year). Maurine Molak, co-founder of the David’s Legacy foundation, said the first step to reducing cyberbullying is to help kids understand that if you wouldn’t say something in real life, you shouldn’t say it online. Through her work raising awareness and support for anti-cyberbullying legislation, she has observed that teens are often the most influential teachers, because younger kids look up to them.

The online safety conversation needs to start early

Our survey found that parents, on average, said that online safety education should begin when their kids are eight years old. Erin McCowey, who joined us from FOSI, noted that it might be a good idea to start even earlier. While the average kid gets a mobile phone by age eight, the average age for getting a tablet is age six. That’s why FOSI recommends that parents talk to their kids about online safety early and often in their seven steps to good digital parenting.

Teachers and parents need to work together

83 percent of teachers feel they need more resources to teach online safety in the classroom. And in addition to feeling ill-equipped, 87 percent wish parents were more involved when it comes to keeping their kids safe online. Leslie Boggs, President-Elect of National PTA, discussed their PTA Connected program, which encourages conversations about online safety between parents and teachers. As part of that effort, Google and the National PTA partnered earlier this year to facilitate 200 online safety workshops nationwide, providing grants and kits to help parents teach one another about these topics.

A week of online safety goodness

Check in tomorrow as we’ll be sharing a set of security tips that can help you and your whole family stay safer online, and stay tuned throughout the week as we’ll be sharing more about what we do to keep everyone safe online.

Draw a line in the snow: using tech with kids around the holidays

In just a few days, most kids will be out of school for the holiday break. And while you and your family might be building snowmen and hanging out by the fire, the extra free time means your kids will also be spending more time on their devices. I chatted with Stephen Balkham at the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and the two of us came up with some tips for striking a good balance with technology this time of year.


Stephen: Start winter vacation with a tech conversation

Just like you might sit down and plan out where you’re going over the holidays,  you can set a game plan for how you and your family will use technology. Set expectations with your kids for how much screen time is appropriate each day, when screens are okay, and what kinds of things you want them to be doing on their device. Don’t forget to set restrictions for yourself as well–the best way to get your kids to use their devices appropriately is to model how to be a good digital citizen yourself.


Joseph: Turn screen time into family time

Screen time can be a really positive thing for your kids if you explore with them and bond over the things they like. Sometimes it can be tough to get a read on what your kids are into these days. The Family Link app (available for kids with Android and  Chromebook devices) lets you set digital ground rules for your kids as they learn, play and explore online. Check out the app activity card to see what they’re interested in, and use it to strike up a conversation. Try downloading some of the apps they like and playing with them. Let them teach you a thing or two about how to play the games they like—you might feel silly, but it’s worth the cool points. 

Stephen: Use tech to explore fun and educational things to do over the break

With the extra time off school and work, use the technology in your pocket to research, plan and explore new activities in your area. Do some research to see if the zoo or a local museum is doing anything special for the holidays. Using technology during your break doesn't have to be for entertainment—it can help you find educational experiences for your kids as well.


Joseph: Find teacher-recommended content for your child’s new favorite device

If your child is getting a new device to play with this holiday season, you’re probably already thinking about what apps they’ll use. To encourage your kids to use tech that will help them learn, we’re adding a host of new apps to our teacher-recommended content card in Family Link.
FL2

The app recommendation card is currently only available to parents using Android phones. Visit our help center to learn more about how to share suggested apps with your kids.

Check out FOSI’s advice on Good Digital Parenting for more tips on how to confidently navigate the online world with your kids. To learn more about Family Link and how it can help encourage healthy digital habits for your kids all year round, visit our website.

Helping parents have the tech talk with their kids

In real life (or IRL, as my son reminds me) I work hard to ensure my child is safe, confident, and kind. And whether he's chatting with friends, doing homework or playing games, I want to make sure the same is true whenever he’s online. To make that happen, it’s up to me to have the right conversations and provide the right tools to guide him on making smart choices, no matter where he is.

However, parents often feel less tech savvy than their kids. That’s why, as part of October’s National Cybersecurity Awareness and National Bullying Prevention Month, we’re partnering with the National PTA and DonorsChoose.org on two new initiatives to help kids be safe and positive online. 😎 Our goal this year is to reach 5 million kids with Be Internet Awesome.

Helping parents teach their kids to make smart decisions online

Research shows us that parents want to teach their kids how to be safe online but are unsure how to get the conversation going. To help them, we created workshop kits so that parents can teach one another about how to spark productive discussions on digital safety and citizenship.

Each Be Internet Awesome kit is bilingual—English and Spanish—and includes:

  • A Google Pixelbook to power the workshop
  • A presentation developed in partnership with the Family Online Safety Institute including topics on online safety, digital citizenship, and tips and resources to create a positive digital experience for your family’s needs
  • Family Guides to inspire co-learning at home about online reputation and social sharing, phishing and scams, privacy and security, cyberbullying and inappropriate content
  • Posters for the school to remind students to Be Internet Awesome by being smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave
  • A school banner as recognition for participating in Be Internet Awesome  

In addition, we’ve partnered with the National PTA to award grants worth $1,000 to local PTAs in every state to help facilitate Be Internet Awesome workshops. Members interested in applying for one of the 200 workshop grants or a BIA kit can visit the national PTA site here. And later this fall, we are making the content from the kit (presentation and family guides) available digitally for everyone on the resources page of our website.

Supporting our teachers and their classrooms

Teachers often have a list of needs or a passion project they would love to bring to their students if only there was a little extra in the budget. So we’ve teamed up with DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit with a web platform that is part matchmaker, part Scholastic Fairy Godmother. Teachers post their school project wishes on the platform and people like you—or companies like us—find projects we’d love to sponsor.

With DonorsChoose.org, we’ve built a $1 million Classroom Rewards program to encourage and celebrate classroom achievement with Be Internet Awesome. Upon completion of the program, K-6 teachers can unlock a $100 credit towards their DonorsChoose.org project. Teachers can kick off the Be Internet Awesome lessons with one called #ItsCoolToBeKind. 💚 Check out the details on DonorsChoose.

To learn more about Google’s Be Internet Awesome program, visit our website in English or Spanish, and share the Interland game with your kids.

As my son would say, TTYL.

Helping children in the Arab world be safe online explorers

Be Internet Awesome—our digital safety and citizenship program for children—is now available to more than 400 million Arabic speakers as Abtal Al Internet. The program is designed in a way that simplifies the world of internet safety and digital citizenship in a language children feel comfortable with. Developed in collaboration with online safety experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely, the program offers tools for parents and educators so everyone has the tools they need to help children be safer online.

A’alam Al Internet - our digital safety game for children

“A’alam Al Internet”—our digital safety game for children

We surveyed more than 200 teachers in the Arab world to learn about their experience with online safety in the classroom. We found that 98 percent of teachers believe that online safety should be part of the curriculum, and one in three teachers reported that they had witnessed an online safety incident (sharing personal information or cyberbullying, for example) in their school. However, 75 percent of teachers said they don’t have the necessary resources to teach online safety to their students.

We hope that by making Be Internet Awesome’s classroom curriculum available in Arabic, we can give these educators the tools and methods they need to teach digital safety fundamentals. We’re excited to give children in Arabic-speaking communities and elsewhere in the world more access to the learning opportunities online.

Helping more families set digital ground rules with Family Link

Parents constantly tell us that they want their kids to experience the best of what tech has to offer–while also developing a healthy relationship with technology. Giving parents the tools they need to make the choices that are right for their families is critical, and we take our role here very seriously. Last year we launched the Family Link app to help parents stay in the loop while their kids are using Android devices. Family Link helps parents keep an eye on screen time, manage the apps their kids can use, and more. Over the coming days, we’ll make Family Link available to more families, on more devices, and in nearly every country in the world. 

Family Link can now help parents with teens manage technology

Family Link originally launched for kids under-13, but we’ve heard overwhelmingly from parents that the app is still useful as their kids enter their teen years. This week, parents around the world will be able to use Family Link to supervise their teen’s existing Google Account for the first time (see applicable age for a teen in your country). There are some differences when supervising a teen’s account with Family Link. For example, teens are free to turn off supervision if they choose to, but we let parents know. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual family to have a conversation and decide what’s right for them.

Better Chromebook support for kids and teens

The need for supervision doesn’t end with mobile devices. Now, Family Link is available for Chromebook for kids and teens, allowing parents to manage website restrictions and account settings for their child from their device. Soon, parents will also be able to set screen time limits and manage the apps their child can use on Chromebooks.

Continuing to grow together

With more parents in more places able to use Family Link, we want to hear your thoughts on how we’re doing. If you want to share your ideas with us, just open the Family Link app, click the menu in the top left corner and tap “Help and feedback.”

Source: Android


Project Fi now works for your whole family

We introduced group plans on Project Fi as an easy way to share your phone plan with friends and family, and now you can finally include the whole family. Starting today, you can add your children under 13 to your Project Fi group plan using a Google Account managed with Family Link. When you add a child to your plan, you’ll both enjoy the Project Fi features you know and love—like easy data alerts, seamless switching between networks, and automatic connection to free Wi-Fi hotspots—in addition to the features already available in the Family Link app that you can use to set digital ground rules that work for your family.

Manage your child’s phone service with Project Fi

One of parents’ top concerns is keeping an eye on their children’s data usage. With Project Fi, you can easily manage your child’s data usage and set data alerts for you and your child to help them understand how much data they’ve used each month.

group plan fi

Set digital ground rules for your child with Family Link

With the free Family Link app, you’ll be able to easily manage your child’s apps, keep an eye on their screen time, and remotely lock your child’s phone when it’s time to put devices away. You’ll also be able to manage certain device and account settings for your child, such as content filters in Chrome, Search, and other Google services.
family link fi

Ready to set your child up with Project Fi? Create an account on Family Link, add your child to your Project Fi group plan, and pick a Fi-friendly phone—whether it’s your old phone or a new one like the budget-friendly moto g6—to get started.