The School of Social Networks

The School of Social Networks will provide a starting point for an ongoing conversation between children, parents and teachers, while raising awareness on the role being played by established online safety stakeholders at national level.

The overall objective of The School of Social Networks is to educate children in elementary school on how to use social media safely and responsibly by letting them interact and experiment with chatbots in a fun, safe and pedagogical online environment. The chatbot will be built around a set of key online safety issues, each animated by the popular Monster Messenger characters, driving a playful, engaging and simulating chat experience.

This will enable children to explore and reflect on typical scenarios and interactions they are likely to encounter on social networks. A set of education materials and activities will be published alongside, enabling parents and teachers to have an informed and critical exchange. In this way, the chat experience becomes a starting point for questions and discussion, so that children learn to understand online risks and opportunities in open dialogue with their peers, teachers and parents, exploring the digital world together.

The project fills a void in the current education landscape. Many social media platforms have age restrictions in place which – in theory – prevent access to children under 13 to 16 years old, depending also on national law. Yet, studies show that many children have access to, and are engaged with, multiple social networks at a much younger age without any parental control, sometimes as early as age 7 or 8. Meanwhile, online safety and media literacy courses are primarily addressed at secondary school level, with a clear lack of teacher expertise and resources for the younger age ranges.

In sum, The School of Social Networks aims to empower children and young people from an early age onwards. Together with their peers, parents and teachers, pupils will start building the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to become active, critical and creative online thinkers and doers. They will feel more confident and comfortable to express themselves, to communicate with friends and family, and to enjoy and create different kinds of content and services, while drawing upon each other's help and support whenever needed.

Website: https://schoolofsocialnetworks.org

Duration: 2020 - 2023

Funding: The School of Social Networks is a European not for profit educational initiative, operated by eduPad in partnership with European Schoolnet. The School of Social Network is a laureate of the Google.org Impact Challenge to help make the internet safer for everyone.

  • Status: Current