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Internet lessons for the next generation

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internet lessons for next generation

A good education system should provide students with knowledge and skills relevant to the world they live in. As a parent, when I evaluate a school’s program, a large part of what I’m looking at is how the knowledge and skills, my child will obtain will help him to solve problems, overcome challenges and make good decisions in adult life.

Digital etiquette and safety

Like it or not, we have to admit that the digital dimension is a dynamically growing part of our everyday life. Our kids carry out or will carry out more of their lives online than we do, whether that means social media use and messaging apps, online tools and services, entertainment or any other aspect of life. Given that truth, it seems to me that lessons about Internet safety and digital etiquette are an essential part of a balanced contemporary educational system.

Yes to Internet lessons

It seems that British parliamentarians agree with me! Lessons about Internet responsibility and risks should be mandatory in all UK schools, say the Lords Communications Committee. Committee chairman Lord Best suggested that while the Internet is “hugely beneficial”, children still need to be made aware of its hazards and traps.

The Lords report builds on recent findings of Children’s Commissioner for England. Commissioner Anne Longfield said that children did not know how their data is being used and that the Internet was not designed for children even though they are now it’s biggest users.

What should kids learn?

If you were to develop such a lesson, what would you want to include in it? I think there are some key things our kids should know about digital safety. Here are a few ideas for what might be included in internet safety and digital etiquette lessons (the list is far from complete; add your own suggestions in the comments below):

  • Understanding what happens to data they make available online and minimising the risk of identity theft
  • The internet as a permanent record (or ‘don’t post things you’ll later regret’)
  • Critical thinking as applied to advertising, spam and phishing emails, fake news and more
  • Understanding the seriousness of Internet bullying and knowing how to resist it
  • Financial awareness, especially with regard to different types of online spending
  • Understanding the effects of social media (eg. as an echo chamber, effects on self esteem)
  • Managing screen time appropriately to avoid addictive behaviour and maintain a healthy balance

I’m sure that we parents would also benefit from some of those lessons. Let’s learn together!

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