Microsoft has launched a free e-book that aims to teach teenagers how to keep themselves, and their computers, safe on the Internet.

Entitled "Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online," the book is designed to teach "computer and Internet savvy 'tweens' and teens" about the risks of that there big bad Internet. Interestingly for the traditionally closed-source software giant, Microsoft has chosen to release the 266-page book under a Creative Commons licence for free download and redistribution.

So what do the lucky "tweens" have in front of them when they've downloaded the 12.3MB PDF? The first chapter, "Protect Your Turf," introduces us to Braden, "a typical 14-year old [who has] over the past 6 months [...] grown three inches, gained four shoe sizes, and eaten his way through nearly a ton of pizza." Sadly for Braden, we also learn that "he’s also unintentionally trashed his family’s computer no less than 12 times" by clicking 'OK' to one too many dialogue boxes.

That's pretty much the tone throughout the book, but it does a surprisingly good job of educating without patronising. The second chapter, "Know Your Enemies," is a particularly enjoyable history of viruses, malware, and spyware. Other chapters deal with subjects such as "Taking Spam Off the Menu" and "Phishing for Dollars."

Some of the sections are surprisingly in-depth, with the chapter titled "Any Port in a Storm" talking the user through how firewalls work and the use of ipconfig to find your IP address.

Your average bit-tech reader isn't going to find much new information here, but "Own Your Space" is a neat compilation of history and sound safety advice for the less experienced members of the family. Sadly, the cutesy illustrations and appeals to the "tween" market may well limit its usefulness if you want to teach your parents not to click on malicious downloads.

The full book or just individual chapters are available as a PDF download from Microsoft's site.

Do you think that Microsoft's book could prove a useful guide for the younger generation, or is it too weighty a tome for your average "tween" to digest without getting bored? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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