The Online Lives of Young Children in Sri Lanka

Sarvodaya-Fusion’s IT YahaMaga program at a school somewhere in Kuliyapitiya

Nicholas CarlisleFounder/President of Power of Zero and No Bully, has interviewed me few months back on ‘The Online Lives of Young Children in Sri Lanka’ as part of their series on the online lives of young children across the world.

Power of Zero is a global campaign to reshape early learning for a connected world. It focuses on children aged eight and under. Young children (8 and under) spend an average of two hours a day with screen media and the time increases every year. Technology has now become part of the landscape of childhood.

I talked about my experience of Sarvodaya-Fusion’s ‘IT YahaMaga’ program, where we have raised awareness about internet safety and ethics, for more than 50,000 school students in less than 5 years.  You can read the full interview here to see my answers to questions like below. I would like to see your comments and critique which I will report back to Power of Zero to update their case studies.

Are they using the kid friendly version of Facebook Messenger?

Mostly no, because they are using their parent’s phone and often their parent’s Facebook account. More educated parents create separate accounts that are child friendly, but that is a much smaller percentage. I talk to people in the rural sections, and I ask them “Are you on Facebook?” and they say yes, and I say “Are you on the Internet?” and they say no.  They get their mobile data enabled by a prepaid connection, but all they can see is that they are on the Facebook app. They don’t realise that they are on the Internet. I am not talking about the young people here, I am talking about the adults in rural sections. They are not asking the questions that they need to ask such as: “How do I enable my mobile data?” and “How do I set my privacy’” and “Do I have to be careful about sharing pictures?” Those conversations are only now starting to happen.

Mission of ‘Power of Zero’ is to build every child’s powers to connect well, by setting up the next generation to harness the positive power of the internet and end online hate, bullying, and violence.

I highly recommend their learning materials section. It has lot of useful material if you are a parent or a facilitator in building capacity of children to be safe online.

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