Kinderschutz.li and Pro Juventute start a series of workshops to teach children how to handle digital tools and use the internet. From Cyberbullying to Data Privacy and responsible media use.
Despite the advantages, digital technologies also bring risks. Most of them are new risks that we do not yet know how to handle. One of these risks is that people don’t know how to use digital media properly, and that’s particularly true for children.
In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, kids aged 12 to 19 years spend, on average, two hours a day browsing the internet. On weekends, the average goes up to three hours. Kids aged six to 13 years use the internet at least once per week, and that figure has increased by 50 percent since 2015.
In principle, there is nothing wrong with kids using the internet and social media. Quite the contrary, it’s essential for children to learn using digital tools from an early age. Their digital proficiency will significantly impact their lives and their future opportunities in the job market. Their parents, however, have grown up entirely without digital tools, making it difficult for them to teach their kids how to deal with digital tools and handle the enormous amounts of information overflow. The consequences can be a serious challenge.
Teachers and parents press for more digital education
Cyberbullying, media addiction, and access to adult content can have a massively negative impact on children’s lives. Therefore, parents must know how to give their kids access to digital tools without exposing them to these risks.
The Liechtenstein-based organization Kinderschutz.li has now launched a program called “Medienprofis” in cooperation with Pro Juventute. The idea is to organize a series of workshops in schools to teach kids how to use their smartphones and the internet responsibly.
“Using WhatsApp, Tiktok, Snapchat and YouTube is an important topic at home and in schools,” says Joelle Loos from Kinderschutz.li in the local newspaper Vaterland.li. Parents and teachers have repeatedly expressed the importance of media competency for their kids.
A series of workshops
As the issue is complex, Kinderschutz.li has teamed up with the Swiss youth organization Pro Juventute, which has been actively teaching media competency for more than ten years. Pro Juventute has also launched the program Medienprofis.
The workshops start in third grade and take place directly in schools. Experts from Pro Juventute will moderate the workshops, which are split into four separate lectures. The key topics are Cyberbullying, Data Privacy, and the intensive use of digital tools – for older children, the responsible use of money online is included as well.
“We emphasize prevention. We show children with practical examples how their online activities can have consequences and we are looking for good solutions,” says Daniel Betschart from Pro Juventute.
Learning how to use digital tools properly is a generational challenge. The youngest members of society are the most vulnerable and the ones for whom digitalization will become the biggest opportunity. It’s thus good to see that some organizations are pushing digital education forward.
Maybe these ideas should become part of the official school curriculum?