Even though face-to-face teaching is about to be resumed in Austria, children and young people are spending more of their free time than ever on digital platforms. However, many people do not fully understand how to use social media safely and securely. “Using information and communication technologies responsibly should be learnt right from school age,” demands education researcher Kathrin Otrel-Cass. She is leading the “Digital? Sicher!” (“Digital? Yes, but safely!”) project, which is funded by the state of Styria and is designed to increase teenagers’ resilience to cyberattacks and fake news. The researchers are developing a learning app inspired by “Serious Gaming” and containing real-life examples from the Styrian business world. “Students then have to think critically about what’s going to happen to the data that they give out. For instance, they’ll be shown tailored advertising content that is based on their communication profile but that isn’t always identified as such,” the researcher explains.
Surfing in school
More use should be made of digital media to complete exercises, not just for remote learning. Otrel-Cass is convinced: “Digital media have become an essential part of young people’s lives and add an exciting new dimension to their learning.” However, she adds, parents share some of the responsibility: they also need to find out about the benefits and dangers of the Internet and contribute their own experiences to the debate. “Just waging your finger won’t be taken seriously.”
Details of Kathrin Otrel-Cass’s research can be found in the latest edition of Unizeit.