Workshops keep children safe online
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Virtual workshops keep children and young people safe online

Virtual workshops keep children and young people safe online

National children’s not-for-profit organisation, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, is running a series of workshops for teachers and early learning educators to help children, young people and families use technology in safe ways. Funded by the Telstra Foundation, the virtual workshops aim to build digital skills and enhance digital inclusion for 70,000 Australians by 2024.

Playing IT Safe

Playing IT Safe is an innovative early childhood online safety education initiative that supports educators to teach infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers basic online safety through play-based learning. It will also give them skills to become digitally literate and respectful and safe technology users as they grow older.

Developed by the Foundation, in partnership with the Australian Federal Police and the eSafety Commissioner, and in collaboration with leading academics and early childhood teachers, Playing IT Safe is a web portal that hosts play-based activities, games and resources for parents, carers and educators to use when introducing technology and online safety to young children.

The Foundation’s Director, Policy & Prevention, Ariana Kurzeme said Playing IT Safe features fun, interactive and age-appropriate play-based activities, games and resources designed specifically to introduce technology and online safety to young children – in both educational and home environments.

“Research from the eSafety Commissioner shows that 81 per cent of parents with pre-schoolers said their children were already using the internet,” Ms Kurzeme said. “This creates potential challenges, including exposure to inappropriate content, creating self-generated child sexual exploitation material or unwanted contact through interactive apps or games.” Educators and parents can access information and resources developed by early childhood education and online safety experts.

“We know children are now online before they can read, and our children need to explore and learn safely. These resources help them play online in ways that will give them the skills they need to be safe and smart,” Ms Kurzeme said.

The workshops help early childhood educators to effectively apply Playing IT Safe and use play to teach children about what the internet is, how messages and photos are shared and who to approach if they feel scared or need help when using technology.

Media Literacy Lab

Offering a live deep-dive into the Foundation’s Media Literacy Lab, the virtual workshops are for teachers of Years 7-10 students. Media Literacy Lab is a contemporary, gamified and carefully curated learning and teaching tool with teacher-supported resources, as well as access to professional learning opportunities and a Community of Practice. “Young Australians read almost half of their news stories on websites and the other half on their social media feeds. Without media literacy knowledge and skills, they can be more susceptible to online harms like disinformation and the many faces of hate speech,” Ms Kurzeme said.

“Media Literacy Lab is a highly-engaging education resource for young people aged 12-16, equipping them with the skills they need to effectively navigate and critique today’s fast-paced digital ecosystem.”

Validated in early development testing by young people, the characters and narratives within the Lab are reflective of the diverse backgrounds and societal experiences of all young Australians, Ms Kurzeme said.

“The Lab has been designed to help Australian students gain essential media literacy skills, and better understand how media and the technology behind it can impact their lives and society at large.”

Aligned with the Australian Curriculum, there are hundreds of differentiated activities for students aged 12-16, with engaging, relevant and gamified activities developed by and alongside educators and students.

Secondary-level teachers of many subject areas can teach media literacy relevant to their subject specialism. The subject area alignment includes English; Media Arts; Digital Technologies; Civics and Citizenship; Health and Physical Education; Mathematics; and Science.

The cross-curricular and flexible learning design helps teachers of many subject areas to facilitate classroom-based or remote lessons.  And teachers who attend this training session are provided with resources to share their learning with other teachers in their own school on how to implement the Media Literacy Lab.

Students are engaged in nine modules aligned to the Australian Curriculum, including: What is Media? My Relationship with Media, Information Disorder, AI Bots Algorithms and Big Data, Media and Democracy and Haters Gonna Hate.

If you are a registered eSmart School, Media Literacy Lab complements the suite of eSmart initiatives, especially helping students recognise and respond to misinformation/disinformation and hate speech online.

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