Thursday, 8 May 2008

Hector's world

Meet Hector the Dolphin, who surfs the internet ocean. He features in a series of cartoons, developed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which are intended to teach 5-7-year-old children about internet safety. I would have liked to have offered a review of the cartoons here but it isn't possible as my Apple laptop can't seem to access them. I like some of the guidance given on the website and the site design is clear and accessible to young children. I find when talking to many parents and teachers that they do not know how to begin to work with young children on internet safety practices, so this material should offer a starting point and will no doubt be adapted by teachers to suit their needs. Now what is needed is a similar site which offers young children guidance on offline safety e.g. what to do about sexual, emotional or physical abuse from family members. It would be unhelpful to give children the impression that is is only in online practices that self-protection strategies are necessary.


Tim Davies said...

A really interesting reflection.

I've just watched the first of the series. It goes for the 'big fear' approach on sharing personal details - being mainly about the 'stranger danger' aspect.

In my exploration of safety messages for young people it seems clear that those sorts of messages are less likely to be effective than messages that connect with young people's day to day experience (perhaps along the lines of: don't share personal details that you wouldn't want everyone at your school to have, and don't share images that you wouldn't want your teachers to see etc.) rather than messages about distant fears (I've found the work of the Crimes Against Children Research Center really useful on this....)

But presumably those are more complex messages that wouldn't work for a 5 - 7 year old audience?

Does that mean the 'stranger danger' approach is the best bet for younger children? Or is there some more nuanced messaging that can work with this age group?

Jackie Marsh said...

Hi Tim, thanks for the link, I will look it up. You make a very good point - I agree re the dangers of the 'stranger danger' discourse. It is similar to the issue relating to the usual safety advice on child abuse i.e. telling young children not to talk to strangers, when most abuse is carried out by family members. I think 5-7 year olds are capable of understanding nuanced messaging if it is communicated in an accessible manner and so grounding the advice in realistc contexts would work well.

I haven't been able to access the video, but I thought that the layout of the site was good for this age group and I liked the advice about finding someone to talk to if the child came across something upsetting as it did not try to define what would be upsetting.I did not like the downloadable colouring-in sheets however - why do people have to clog sites for this age group up with that kind of stuff when they could offer more interactive features?
Anyhow, will be interesting to see how teachers use/ adapt this material.