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8 August 2017
By Rebecca Avery

Children’s Commissioner launches ‘Digital 5 A Day’ Framework: Suggestions for Educational Settings

The Children's Commissioner has launched a new 'Digital 5 A Day ' campaign to provide a simple framework to help children lead healthy online lives. The approach reflects the concerns of parents/ carers as well as children’s behaviours and needs and seeks to promote a positive relationship with technology rather than relying on restrictions.Based on the NHS’s evidence-based ‘Five steps to better mental wellbeing’, the 'Digital 5 A Day ' campaign gives children and parents easy to follow, practical steps to achieve a healthy and balanced digital diet. It can also act as a base for family agreements about internet and digital device use throughout both the holidays and term time. The 5 elements of a good 'digital diet' are: connect, be active, get creative, give to others, be mindful. Further information about the 'Digital 5 A Day ' can be found online. This includes a 'Digital 5 A Day ' guide for children and young people. Childnet has also published some useful summaries and links on their blog. Educational Settings and professionals working with children may find it helpful to share and use the 'Digital 5 A Day ' and associated links and resources with the children and families that they work with. What about Educational Settings? The 'Digital 5 A Day ' could even be a helpful approach for schools and other educational settings to adopt within their online safety ethos. Within this in mind, we have made some suggestions based on the 'Digital 5 A Day ' model for educational settings to consider:
  • Connect
    • Adults need to acknowledge that the online space is important to children; educational staff therefore need to be empowered and supported to have conversations with the children about internet use. Staff may require training and resources (inlcuding time) so that they can speak confidently with the children that they work with about  the internet.
      • Conversations could include how children go online, what sites/apps are popular and who children are connecting with online.
      • Educational staff can also use this conversations as opportunities to explore practice tips such as using privacy settings and reporting mechanisms.
    • Talking with children is a fantastic way to help educational settings keep up-to-date with the rapid pace of change with technology. It can also help settings understand how their community is spending their time online. Being aware of this can help settings develop effective policies and procedures, as well as to implement realistic and credible educational messages.
    • Most importantly, by creating a positive dialogue about online activity, educational settings will help encourage children to seek help and support when dealing with online safety issues.
  • Be Active
    • Activity is important for mental well-being: all children should have time to switch off and get moving. Educational staff can help children  find something active or outdoors that they enjoy. This can include as part of formally provided physical education or after school activities, or other extra curricular activities and opportunities.
    • Educational staff can help children research an activity or a place  to go online. This can provide a helpful opportunity for staff to use the internet together with children, as well as to discuss safe behaviours.
  • Get Creative
    • The idea of the internet being used as a 'babysitter' is often reported as being a concern by professionals and parent alike.  However, time spent online doesn’t have to be spent passively consuming content;  it can be educational, creative and can provide excellent opportunities for children to build skills that can be useful for later life.
    • Educational staff can help children explore their creativity online, both formally and informally. This could include learning to code, designing and building complex structures in online games, creating video content or developing writing skills through activities such as blogging.
    • By exploring online creativity, educational settings can develop positive opportunities to discuss safe and responsible online behaviour with children.
  • Give to others
    • Educational staff can help children use the internet as a force for good by exploring how to get involved with local and national charitable schemes online within the classroom.
    • Educational settings could use the internet to engage with their community and demonstrate that they listen to children's voices. This could include online questionnaires, polls, blogs, videos, competitions etc. By adopting this approach, educational settings can help and encourage children to use the internet to give positive support and feedback to their community.
    • Staff can initiate conversations with children about positive online engagement and can subsequently provide a safe space to explore how children can provide appropriate online support to their peers and their families
    • Educational staff can also help and support children to report any negative behaviour or activity online - this will help to help the web make a positive place for everyone.
  • Be Mindful
    • Children sometimes report that they feel pressured by the constantly connected nature of the internet which can be compounded by peer pressure and a fear of missing out. Educational staff can help with this by facilitating discussions about the amount of time children (and indeed adults!) spend online.
    • Educational staff can encourage children to be mindful about how they are using the internet and how it makes them feel. Staff can discuss strategies with children to help them manage and deal with online use. i.e. keeping a diary to log the amount of time they are spending online or limiting and managing notifications.
    • Educational staff can also be positive role models and help children understand the need to balance on and offline activities.
If educational professionals have suggestions as to how their setting is adopting or demonstrating their approach towards a 'Digital 5 A Day ',  then please leave your suggestions or additions in the comments section below.