With kids spending more time online as a result of school closures and COVID-19 lockdowns, that increases the risk of them stumbling into darker corners of the web. Add to this the fact that many parents are also now working from home, and unable to supervise what their children are doing, and the problem grows exponentially.
In order to help with this, Facebook has this week launched a new education resource for kids, parents and educators which aims to "provide lessons and resources to help young people develop the competencies and skills they need to more safely navigate the internet".
The new initiative - called simply 'Get Digital' - includes several dedicated education areas, each of which features a video overview, and links to a range of tools and resources to help improve digital literacy.
As per Facebook, the program aims to show participants how to:
- Stay safe online and protect their personal information
- Navigate content and information, and evaluate the trustworthiness of a source
- Build positive and inclusive communities online by being kind and respecting others
- Manage their health and wellbeing by learning how to monitor emotions and develop healthy habits for when to use technology
The initiative also includes modules on how technology is used for civic and political engagement, understanding algorithms, learning programming and web design basics, and more.
As noted, with more students now having to spend more time online, in order to undertake school classes, aside from entertainment during the lockdown, it's increasingly important that they understand the dangers and risks of doing so, and how they can avoid potentially exploitative situations.
But more than this, by gaining a better understanding of social media algorithms and content distribution frameworks, we can also help to empower the next generation in order to help limit the impacts of misinformation campaigns and false narratives shared online.
Indeed, Finland has seen significant success in battling the impacts of fake news by implementing a new education curriculum, beginning from elementary school, which focuses on examining digital misinformation, and encourages critical thinking. The program has been in place since 2014, and in a study last year, Finland ranked first in terms of "resilience to digital misinformation and manipulation".
That's important, because false or misleading narratives are playing a part in influencing how people vote - and as the current situation is showing us every day, it's crucially important that we elect the best leaders to help steer us in the right direction, and ensure that the welfare of all citizens is kept in focus.
Facebook's education resources come from a wide variety of expert sources, including UNESCO, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), National PTA, Harvard University and the Greater Good Science Center. And as noted, the available courses and lessons are also aimed at educators and parents - you can check out the full set of tools at a new dedicated mini-site here.
In addition to this, Facebook has also published a new set of tips which it has compiled, internally, on how to maximize work capacity and performance when dealing with remote teams.
The tips aim to help improve team connectivity among a distributed workforce, including notes on conducting effective meetings, managing workload around caring for children, facilitating active engagement and more.
If you're looking for ways to help ensure that you're doing all you can, it could be worth taking a look. You can access Facebook's full remote work tips listing here.