|Today is Safer Internet Day when people around the world focus on how to make the Internet a safer, better place for children and teens.
Our mission at Power of Zero is to ensure that every young child learns the life skills they need for a connected world. As so many of us attempt to work from home through the lockdown here’s an image that will forever stay with me … a six year old sitting under his desk, playing with his Lego, as his teacher addresses his class on the laptop above his head … his mother entering, stunned to see her child on the ground, feeling guilty that her child is skipping online school, and mostly feeling bad for letting her children down as she tries to focus on her own work.
This story was shared with me by one of my neighbours in London. But variations upon this story are happening across the world. According to UNESCO, at the peak of last year’s school closures, around 1.6 billion learners were affected across 194 countries, accounting for more than 90% of total enrolled students. To understand the scale and evolution of school closures through the last year, take a look here at UNESCO’s moving global map.
The Internet has been children’s salvation through the pandemic, providing access to remote learning and connection with their peers while their schools remained closed. However it is far from a perfect solution.
- Structural inequalities in device and Internet access mean that some children cannot participate in online school.
- Successful online learning requires teachers and parents to give their children significant emotional and practical support. COVID-19 has forced us to get smart at how to deliver online learning and over the next few months we will start to see the research reports on what works and where we went wrong. In the meantime take a look at the best practices recommended by the OECD (also featured below.)
- Children were not designed to sit in front of a screen for hours on end. It requires extraordinary levels of emotional regulation and self-motivation. If you were six years old, wouldn’t you feel better playing with your Lego rather than staring into a screen? It’s why Power of Zero is developing the lessons that will teach young children how to navigate their increasingly online childhoods.
One of the most immediate challenges is teaching children critical thinking, which we define as knowing whom you can trust and what you can believe online. In support of Safer Internet Day, our friends at Childnet International have developed a suite of lessons for 3 to 7 year olds to foster their critical thinking that you can download here.