In their very early age, children discover technologies of information and communication, mostly thanks to their parents who show them how to watch cartoons on You Tube or play with apps on their smart phone. Also at school, children discover the Internet with their teacher doing funny games while learning. Then, children grow and discover by themselves social media, Facebook and Instagram and they want to be part of it. And one day, as a parent, you just check in pure honesty how your child behaves on Internet and social media, and you discover that each child can be surrounded by a very dark Internet full of risks.
Then comes the time to educate your child to the use of social media…
Considering the number of children already addicted to Internet Technologies, social media and gaming, it seems to be very important to develop children’s awareness about the use of technologies, especially knowing the fact of the forecasted growth of technologies in the upcoming years. Children need to be explained how these Internet platforms work, they need to know that they can be seen by the entire world. They need to understand that they can’t do things on social media that they wouldn’t do on a public place in a city. They need to understand that adults can be hidden behind a child’s photo, they need to learn how to detect a dangerous conversation and ecommerce ads. They need to learn how to block people who publish offensive content.
Indeed, children need to build a long lasting dialogue with adults about what they see on social media and Internet. They also need to learn how marketing strategies through ads drive their way of « wanting things ». On You Tube, many children who have built a big community of fans are used by major companies to promote their products. When a child is exposed to an ad, he doesn’t understand by himself that he watches hidden ads, and he thinks that he can become like the promoting child, a star… And he doesn’t understand that seeing ads is a world of fake, just to create a big desire to buy. And when a child wants something, he will do all the harassment that he can to obtain what he wants. Marketing strategies are so strong that no child can resist to the ads assault. If you are a parent, you certainly know how children do and how much stress they can cause on you for the fact of « wanting something ». So, what can we do, as parents, schools or organizations committed in the field of education to sustainable development?
Awareness is the big thing to do combined with the learning of a safe practice surrounded by adults. Myself, as a mother of an 11 years old boy and a Market and Opinion Research Director, I feel very concerned because I saw the damage caused by technologies in my child’s own life. So I decided to use both my position of mother and Research Director to empower him to discover a positive way to use social media, by creating content related to a useful topic, which is for us environmental preservation. So on the 22nd of July 2018, IMEDD launched a funny project of awareness dedicated to children on social media : The World Blue Fish Competition, whose goal is to amaze children and people about blue marine species. In this project, The Little Prince, the son of Rose, The Princess of the Environment is the happy president of a jury, responsible for the selection of the most beautiful Blue Fish of the Ocean. The prize for the Blue Fish will be to live an entire underwater life with the pink fish. The whole project lasts three weeks and is published on social media until the 9th of August 2018.
So, at first the global idea was to teach a funny way of learning social media to the Little Prince. But he learnt many more things…
He released a seagull from Monaco Oceanographic Museum to be part of the jury.
He was a model for funny photos about marine species and activities at the beach.
He participated in the creation of funny messages in line with his photos.
He participated in the selection of all blue marine species and found them funny names.
He participated in several videos doing the actor with a text in English (which is not his mother tongue, he only has 2 years of learning).
He played the harmonica and swam in the sea for the need of a video making.
He recorded a conversation with pro equipment and people.
He created an Instagram account dedicated to the Little Prince.
He publishes the awareness campaign about the World Blue Fish Competition on Instagram.
He empowers his friends about his project.
He makes new relationships with children on the Instagram account.
He is recognized by his friends as an ambassador for environment.
What do we learn from this creative and funny experience proposed by IMEDD ?
Something very simple. When we give a bit of our time to children, when we share a bit of our skills, knowledge and know-how, we can create a safe universe for them on social media, in which they are recognized by their friends for their commitments. As far as we are regarding the World Blue Fish Competition, we already see that we built a small and kind community of children who are in a positive mind and they enjoy the project of the Blue Fish. Children start chatting, they have fun and they start to follow the Little Prince on his Instagram Account.
In conclusion, the best prevention for social media and Internet is creating content dedicated to children, proposing them to be part of a tribe who is committed to education and environmental preservation. Believe me as a mother, it’s much better than letting children during hours doing video gaming or watching silly things on You Tube.
At least, they learn about environment, have fun online and they keep being social.