• >
  • Opinion
  • >
  • Digital safety: developing healthy digital habits at a young age
Read time: 3 minutes

Digital safety: developing healthy digital habits at a young age

By , co-founder, Social Kids ZA.
13 Feb 2024
Cheryl Barnett, co-founder of Social Kids ZA.
Cheryl Barnett, co-founder of Social Kids ZA.

Digital is a fundamental part of our everyday lives including the lives of primary school children. It has become an extension of ways of learning and creativity; however, it also presents risks such as cyberbullying, sexual extortion and risks to privacy. According to the Unicef SA Kids Online Study, 95% of children in South Africa use the internet regularly but are not aware of these risks and how to handle them. An even more shocking 70% of children do not share what they are exposed to.

Social Kids South Africa is a programme dedicated to guide and protect children under 11 years old as they navigate the online world. This digital adventure is essential training that children need to ensure they know what information they should share online, how to protect their privacy, understand how an algorithm works and how to deal with cyberbullies. They learn good manners online and how to spot fake news and ensure the site they are on is secure.

“The reality is children are being exposed to the digital world from a young age. But what are we doing to show them the right way to surf the net, know their rights and how to handle situations they may find themselves in? We can monitor their online behaviour and try being online 24/ 7 but ensuring a child is aware of the threats, comfortable to communicate and empowered with knowledge, the more likely they are to steer away from dangerous situations”, says Cheryl Barnett, Co-founder of Social Kids ZA.

Building digital literacy at a young age empowers your child with the right tools and knowledge to help them when they are older and in the infamous teenage years. Rather than letting your child learn from their peers or through trial and error, Social Kids mascot, Codey Crawler shows children how to be safe when they go online and to think before they click. If your child is playing games on the phone or watching YouTube, they are vulnerable to master manipulators online.

The programme has 5 adventure levels, each ending in an activity that must be submitted to earn a digital badge. Codey Crawler and his bestie Miss Nadie take little adventurers on a journey with the purpose to upskill them via fun and age-appropriate pre-recorded lessons.

  • Adventure level 1- the adventure begins with the dos and don’ts of digital safety. Children are taught about their digital fingerprint and the trial they leave online.
  • Adventure level 2- teaches the little adventurer what cyberbullying is, how to navigate and stop it by sharing with their circle of trust. This adventure level teaches them to safeguard their information and understand what details are safe to share.
  • Adventure level 3- in this lesson, Codey and Miss Nadie focus on how to spot fake stories, the importance of asking questions and how to fact-check and always ask permission from parents before sharing.
  • Adventure level 4- Codey describes online manners, what certain messages and symbols on the internet mean and how to interpret them. He goes into detail on how to play games safely and when to show your true colours or when not to!
  • Adventure level 5- the last level, Codey reinforces the main topics covered to ensure the brave adventurers can confidently connect with the world. It ensures they understand the dangers that could be out there and highlights the positives that the digital world has to offer.

Parents have access to in-depth parent guides; these were created to add value to parents. Showing them step by step how to protect their privacy, educating them on the best ways to set boundaries from a young age and improving their relationships as they grow and learn online. The program can be taken together or via a Jump in- Jump out online class with Miss Nadie in the afternoons, every weekday.

"Social Kids is a great resource to future proof your kids against online dangers. Not only does it educate them, but it also provides parent guides to help set boundaries in place. I found the course useful because it opened up conversations with my son about online bullies and how he would handle them. Creating a safe family space (which Codey teaches us are people we can trust) is a good grounding for kids for that online world out there" says Heather Step. https://samomblogs.co.za/

Cheryl and Bryan Barnett developed this programme to protect their son, “We have seen how fast this digital world is changing and how our children are being exposed to this world, with little to no guidance. The focus only comes into place after they are well into their teens, the bad habits have already been formed. Hence our focus is on the younger generation.”






Daily newsletter