Safer Internet Day 2018

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Today, on the 6th of February, the world is celebrating Safer Internet Day. As technology continues to rapidly change the world around us, some of us may feel like we’re either sinking or swimming in the tides of change. The leaders of today challenge us to embrace the uncertainty and ambiguity of the 21st century  but at the same time call us to preserve our values and our humanity.

If you’ve been watching a lot of Black Mirror episodes, I’m sure that like me, you’re probably a little bit afraid of the world our kids will inherit. But before you hit the share button on that viral video about technology and gadgets as the “new cocaine” for kids of today, it pays to read some literature to know more about the truth when it comes to technology.

Here’s a list of resources that might help you in your classrooms and in your homes:

“I want to know more about technology, how it’s affecting children in general – the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

  • UNICEF’s Report: Children in a Digital World offers a comprehensive view about the role of technology in children’s lives. The report covers the opportunities and hazards of the digital world, how it’s changing the way our children develop, how it’s shaping economies and societies, and what policymakers, parents, educators, etc. can do about it.

“What should we include in our school curriculum?”

  • Google’s Be Internet Awesome is a Digital Citizenship and Safety Curriculum. It aims to teach children how to manage their privacy, be savvy with cybersecurity, and how to be a good and moral citizen. As a bonus, they have free online games that teach children about these concepts!
  • Common Sense Media also has a curriculum on Digital Citizenship. It spans across year levels from K-12. The lessons are downloadable from the site and are accompanied with videos, worksheets, and other materials.
  • The DQ Institute coined the term digital intelligence, which is, the sum of technical, mental and social competencies essential to digital life. In their site, they present a comprehensive framework about what they’ve identified as the essential eight digital competencies that children need to develop. They also developed an online game that teaches kids about digital citizenship.

“Should I ban screens and Internet use at home?”

To end, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake tells us:

The internet is all of these things, reflecting and amplifying the best and worst of human nature. It is a tool that will always be used for good and for ill. Our job is to mitigate the harms and expand the opportunities digital technology makes possible.

By protecting children from the worst digital technology has to offer, and expanding their access to the best, we can tip the balance for the better.

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