Yakutsk Children Get Online Safety Classes from Safe Internet Leage

17
Jun

Schoolchildren in Yakutsk have had their first ever online classes in Internet safety. Commissioned by the Education Department of Yakutsk and developed by the Safe Internet League, this was a special project forming part of the local educational reform. The children sat their first Internet safety class in a summer camp by participating in a video link with the League’s chief expert Valeriy Ponomarev.

Because of the different Internet use profiles inherent to different age groups, the participants were divided into two classes, one with children from junior secondary school and one with senior secondary school students, each with its own agenda. The younger children were offered roleplaying scenarios teaching them useful ways in which one can use the Internet for education, development, and entertainment, and also the correct way to interact with people online, and Internet safety. Senior students were told about malware, the dangers of aggressive online interaction, fraud, various forms of subterfuge, and the way to protect oneself from them. Special emphasis was put on social networks that are so popular with schoolchildren. The syllabus was developed so as to illustrate the possibilities and dangers of Internet use with real-life examples. The subjects Yakutsk children found most interesting were multiplayer online games safety and detecting online text message fraud.

As Yakutsk Education Department Head Sardan Tatarinov noted, this first summer class would pave the way for long-term professional cooperation between his department and the Safe Internet League. Reviewing the results of the trial, it was decided that all summer camps in the region would get a copy of its materials, with a dedicated online safety curriculum being jointly prepared for the start of the new term. The other unique feature of the proposed educational project is that it will target schoolchildren and their parents alike. As Mr Ponomarev says, when parents themselves learn more about online fraud, it would help them better teach their children proper online safety techniques. Parents should be always ready to help their teenage children tell indecent communications from regular ones and to avoid exposing themselves to online dangers.

We should remind that the initiative itself was announced as far back as May 2013 by Yakutsk mayor Aysen Nikolayev during a consultation on educational issues: «Summer holidays are coming, and for a lot of schoolchildren its main type of leisure is going online. It would be simply ineffective to just prohibit or limit their accessing the Internet. We must rather teach our children how to stay safe online». According to Mr Nikolayev, Yakutsk authorities are planning to take online safety education even further by inviting western educationalists, and are already engaged in talks with specialists from Cambridge.

«Given that they are mostly at work, parents are not always there to check what their children are doing online. The danger is even greater when the school is off for the summer. Not that there’s much on online safety on the curriculum either way. That is why conducting online safety classes is an important line of the League’s activities», says Safe Internet Leage CEO Denis Davydov.

«We already have a number of achievements in this area and are constantly improving our methods of preparing and holding such classes. We are planning to implement our syllabus throughout Russia. Apart from our customary partners, the K Department, the telecom providers, and the local education departments, we are also actively engaging regional authorities and governors. The League already has working agreements under which we are providing local education departments and ministries help in running such classes, both theoretical and practical, involving our specialists. The next important step would be to make the authorities revise the federal educational standards. We have to make children learn rules of online behaviour as early as junior school, preferably through roleplaying techniques, as part of the curriculum itself. And senior students should already be taught not only how to browse the Net safely, but also how to protect themselves should they be targeted».