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Five activities to help your child build their digital resilience

Image: Fox / Pexels  

Over the past year we’ve increased our reliance on technology, and with that change there are fears that online risks are growing – particularly for children.

Most children, thankfully, only have positive experiences online. But things can go wrong so they need to know where to seek support if something worrying happens.

As classrooms, offices and entertainment have found their new online place in our lives, families have embraced all things digital. 

Here are some fun online activities your child can enjoy that will also help develop their digital resilience so they understand online risks and know what to do to seek support if something goes wrong. 

Learn to code

Coding is a great skill to have. It helps develop your child’s numeracy, communication and problem solving skills, while giving them a better understanding of the technology around them. 

While your child may have already been learning basic coding skills at school, there are some great online resources to continue their development. 

ScratchJr and Cargo-Bot are among some of the best coding platforms for children in primary school. Your child can learn basic coding through games, quizzes and storytelling – great for younger children.

There are loads of options for older children to choose from such as Minecraft: Education Edition or Khan Academy

Take a virtual museum tour

Museums are closed and there are still restrictions on travelling abroad – but thanks to technology, we can still go on virtual visits all over the world, for free.

Spanning London, Amsterdam and New York, the British Museum, the Charles Dickens Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Guggenheim are among those offering online tours. 

As well as being a great source of education and entertainment, giving your child some freedom and independence to explore these safer sites is really important to help build their digital resilience.

Have a video chat 

Video chatting offers a great way to connect with close friends on the weekend or after school, and allows your child to ‘hang out’ in a larger group of friends. It can also ease the sense of isolation we all have been feeling over the last year.

Zoom and Skype are two popular platforms, particularly among young people. Zoom allows unlimited numbers to connect, while Skype allows up to 100 guests per call which is great if you’re celebrating a special occasion during lockdown.

While video chatting can generally be viewed as a safe online activity, when carried out with known friends and families, there are also some risks. Last year, Zoom saw incidents of ‘zoombombings’ where an unidentified person(s) joins a video call. The platform has since added encryption and new privacy settings in a bid to counter such attacks.

There are plenty of ways that you can make your child’s video-chatting experience safer.

First, make sure your child always sets a password for video calls, where possible, and check that they are using the correct privacy settings.  

Supervise younger children while they are video-chatting, and encourage teens to think about how they use these apps – how they’re different from a phone call. 

Talk to your child about the possible risks. Recovering from an experience when things go wrong online is a key part of building your child’s digital resilience, so be open about potential risks and where you can help them report any problems. 

Our parent guides cover the privacy settings for popular video-chatting platforms including Zoom, Houseparty, Skype and Facebook Portal. You can also check out our guides to video chatting for both primary and secondary school children on Parent Info. 

Play Roblox

Roblox is more than a single game. It’s a vast collection of different games by different creators, and allows opportunities to create stories and customise — whether your child wants to become a superhero, build a theme park or star in a fashion show.

It is an opportunity for your child to harness their creativity and literacy, and older children can practise their online etiquette through chatting and sharing with friends. 

Although Roblox is PEGI 7+, the user-created content often falls outside this rating and may contain elements that are only suitable for older children. If you have younger children, setting the game to 13 and under will ensure only games curated by Roblox themselves are available. 

Talk to your child about why you have restricted their account – this will help them become more thoughtful of their own digital habits, and understand why they shouldn’t try to bypass age ratings. 

Roblox also offers optional in-app purchases. Most of these are purely cosmetic or improve game progression. Thanks to the large expanse of titles, if a game involves lots of microtransactions your child can simply play something else. You could also make sure that all purchases are pin-protected, or that in-game transactions are turned off completely. Read our full guide to Roblox to find out more.

Start a blog

Online blogging provides a great opportunity for teenagers to explore their self-expression and creativity, while also promoting learning and building friendships. Your child might also find that writing a blog in the form of a back-to-school diary might help them make sense of their emotions.

There are plenty of blogging platforms to choose from to suit your child’s needs. The most popular choices are WordPress and Blogger.

With different features on each platform ranging from website customisation to photos and animated GIF images, your child has access to an array of tools for expression, and the freedom to write as they wish. 

The minimum age to use most blogging platforms is 13. You and your child should consider what they are writing and who they are sharing it with. You should also decide whether you want others to be able to comment on your child’s blog: if it’s open to all, they may receive negative messages.

Through blogging, your child will have the opportunity to learn about the risks that come with sharing information and become more thoughtful about what they share online.

Striking the balance between self-expression and oversharing can be tricky to achieve – blogging may help them to do just that.

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