Web series launched to support children ‘growing up online’ to navigate the internet safely

A new web series that will teach Scottish children ‘growing up online’ about digital literacy and online safety has received almost £10,000 in funding.

‘Maddie is online’ is a collaboration between a Robert Gordon University (RGU) academic and East Renfrewshire’s Woodfarm High School and Eastwood High School.

One of just 12 selected innovations out of hundreds of applications, the project has been awarded £9,373 by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC)’s School Library Improvement Fund (SLIF).

Maddie is online uses cartoons to address the everyday life experiences of pre-teen children on the internet and ’empowers them with skills that help them deal with challenging phenomena in their digital lives.’

Topics covered in the web series include online bullying, managing online information, copyright and ownership, privacy and security and online reputation.

‘Digital literacy’ refers to an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, utilise, share, and create content using information technologies.

The cartoons can be incorporated into different subjects to enable ‘engaging and creative learning’ and ‘stimulate critical thinking and discussion’ inside the classroom and at home.

Dr Konstantina Martzoukou, teaching excellence fellow at RGU’s School of Creative and Cultural Business, will develop a set of resources, activities and lesson plans that school librarians and teachers can use to support young people.

She said: “The Maddie is online project aims to explore issues surrounding young people’s development of digital literacy and resilience as the online citizens of tomorrow and to develop a set of resources, activities and lesson plans that school librarians and teachers can use to support young people with the multiple challenges they encounter when navigating their online environments.

“The series was started to explore issues surrounding young children’s development of digital literacy as the online citizens of tomorrow. Young people are growing up online with a range of new social technologies but still need to master the guiding principles of online society and develop resilience in the online environment.  Teachers, librarians and parents can play an important role in supporting children within the everyday life context to become digital citizens: informed, active, ethical, safe and responsible members of the online society.

“In order to engage younger children in these issues, it is important to offer learning opportunities, which are interesting and relate to their everyday life online experiences.  Previous research has found that there are diverse challenges and opportunities created in the online everyday life context  as children (as young as 5 years old) are now using a wide range of social media enabled online tools for messaging, video sharing and online gaming to connect with others, learn and experiment.  There are different educational material available for young children and their families, which could be highly valuable for educating young children.”

Having been piloted in schools, Maddie is online will now deliver workshops in selected schools in Scotland. There are already plans for new episodes and an expansion of the service by means of creating additional capacity to deliver workshops.

To find out more about the ‘Maddie is online’ project visit: https://maddiesonline.blogspot.com/ and https://www.cilips.org.uk/librariesareessential-maddie