The House of Lords has published a report stating that learning to survive in a world dominated by the internet is as important to children as learning how to read and write.
The report builds on the Children’s Commissioner for England’s findings that the internet is not designed for children, even though they are the biggest users by age group, and argues that teaching digital literacy should form the core of a new curriculum for Personal Social Health and Economic Education (PSHE).
“Children inhabit a world in which every aspect of their lives is mediated through technology: from health to education, from socialising to entertainment. Yet the recognition that children have different needs to those of adults has not yet been fully accepted in the online world,” the Lords say.
Despite there being a lot of material online that can be harmful to children, the Lords suggest that this access to information can be “hugely beneficial” to children as a way of them finding out about the world and interacting.
However, children need proper education in order to build a resilience to online risk factors such as exposure to pornography, internet grooming, sexting and body image issues, as well as day-to-day issues such as lack of sleep due to addictive properties of internet games. The report states that “digital literacy should be the fourth pillar of a child’s education alongside reading, writing and mathematics and be resourced and taught accordingly”.
More information on the report can be found in this BBC article. If you are interested in building your knowledge of the many issues and concerns faced by young people online, we offer a range of value for money e-Safety Online Training Courses suitable for parents, teachers and those working closely with children and young people.