Safer Internet Day on 9th February 2021 was embraced by schools all over the country as home learning, mostly online, continued. There were none of the normal drop down days or school visits from the Digital Life Skills Company. But we were able to deliver our online webinar ‘Is that a fact?’ to parents and other adults. We help them to think about, and more importantly talk about, how to get good information online so they can better guide their children.
Now the kids are back at school, let’s not let the momentum of Safer Internet Day fade away until next year. We believed digital media literacy was essential before the coronavirus pandemic, now it is imperative. Do children and young people really know how to stay well informed and find trusted content online? There is an opportunity here to get kids of all ages thinking about how they use the internet.
So, what could you do to keep the conversation about a safer and better internet going at home?
Here are some simple ideas for both parents and teachers:
Foundation (Reception) and Key Stage 1
It’s never too early to learn. Children as young as 4 and 5 will have noticed how important technology is in the day-to-day lives of their parents.
Talk about the different ways we use technology in our lives and what ‘grownups’ are doing when they are on the internet. Children could draw pictures and label with key vocabulary such as email, video calls, work, school work, shopping, doctors, library, research, booking holidays, playing games…
Young people are asked to do online research from a young age. At The Digital Life Skills Company, we think it’s a great idea to teach Year 1 and 2 pupils to do a keyword search in order to get the best information. Learn how to ‘search’ effectively using key words (pick out the most important words in a phrase, e.g. great fire London) and see what sites come up first. Talk about whether the sites at the top of the list are always the best ones to look at; explain they’re often advertisements – and introduce the little ‘ad’ indicator .
Key Stage 2
As well as having a conversation about the ways we use the internet and how to do a keyword search, talk to children about which websites they can trust and why. Draw up a list of reliable websites for research or where to get news. For instance, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the BBC and First News are good places to start, as well as websites recommended by teachers. Some websites have processes in place to check the facts (as above) and others don’t. In our workshops children are always surprised to discover Google and YouTube do not do any checks and that search results are based on popularity among others things.
In terms of safety, Google Interland is a (rather addictive!) game that helps youngsters think about their passwords and trustworthy information by setting challenges and puzzles. Try playing it with your children or pupils and talk about what they are learning – but make sure you set a time limit!
Key Stage 3
As a family or class, discuss which platforms and websites check the facts and explore why that matters. It’s amazing how many young people either don’t know or have never considered the trustworthiness of information. For instance, do Google, YouTube, TikTok, the BBC, Wikipedia check information before it is published (research it yourself if you’re not sure).
Whichever approach you decide to use, start the conversation early. Children maybe digital natives, but we need to teach them digital literacy.
Any questions? Drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photo thanks to Julia M Cameron from Pexels]