Digital Matters: Transforming online safety education for kids

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Living in an increasingly digital world

Today, we can go from offline to online in a simple click. Countless services have become digital and most of us have more IoT devices than we know what to do with, so it’s no shock that the new tech climate incites new threats at intractable speed. The technological transformation continues - as exciting as that is - making navigating the digital world safely more crucial than ever. 

At ESET, arming people (and organisations) with knowledge and tools in their cybersecurity armoury is at the heart of our mission. A big part of that is educating younger generations on how to identify and avoid cyber risks in everyday life.

For us, it is about empowering people to embrace the potential of technological progress without fear of security compromise or interruption. It’s not about fear-mongering and sharing horror stories that will deter people from engaging online; we want to educate and inform you on how to use the internet safely.

According to Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito, “For young people, using technology isn’t solitary or antisocial; it’s a tool for self-expression, a way to explore new interests.” We believe that it's about helping kids to enjoy and explore the full potential of the digital world safely - a sentiment echoed in our Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, Safer Kids Online.

How can we address this?

First, we must open up conversations about online safety, but make it engaging and avoid communicating it as a taunting subject. Cue ‘Digital Matters’ - a free online learning portal developed as part of ESET UK’s progressive approach to cybersecurity education, in partnership with non-profit organisation Internet Matters. The free platform provides support, expertise, and guidance for schools, parents, and kids as they teach the online safety curriculum and media literacy. 

The comprehensive platform provides interactive lessons and dynamic storytelling, empowering teachers and parents to engage young people (KS2) in online safety, covering topics like cyberbullying and fake news. Designed to meet the new and changing online safety requirements within the UK curriculum, Digital Matters encourages and facilitates discussion around safer internet use.

ESET UK’s Managing Director, Malcolm Tuck, stated, “The driving force behind this highly anticipated platform is encouraging young people’s engagement in their online safety education. Digital Matters is a welcome solution as we ebb towards an increasingly digital future.”

How does Digital Matters work?

The Digital Matter platform is split into two sections:

  1. Interactive Learning - students start here, led by their teacher, and learn about the e-safety concept through interactive activities and prompted discussion.
  2. Once Upon Online - here, children guide their character through choices using what they have learned in the previous section. The story allows them to make realistic choices in a safe environment to help them better understand the consequences of their choices. 

Teachers can download free lesson plans about online safety and supporting materials to guide students through the Interactive Learning and Once Upon Online sections. A take-home component also encourages parents to engage with their child’s internet safety education.

Parents can access the app through the Parent Companion Guide, which provides information about the app and the topic to ensure they can support their child online. They can then follow the Take Home activity set by their child’s teacher or lead their child through both sections themselves.

Final thoughts

At ESET, we want to focus on developing new solutions to tackle the digital risks that appear in an ever-changing online environment. So, preparing the next generations is key to more robust security practices. To learn more, visit Digital Matters