In this era of fake news and social media pressures, a group of Lords is calling for digital literacy to stand alongside the three Rs in schools.
The ability to critically understand the internet is vital for youngsters and should complement reading, writing and maths as the “fourth pillar” of education, they said.
The Lords Communications Committee report Growing Up With The Internet said schools must teach online responsibilities, social norms and risk as part of compulsory education.
The Lords demanded intervention “at the highest level of government” and said: “It is no longer sufficient to teach digital skills in specialist computer science classes to only some pupils.”
“We recommend that […] no child should leave school without a well-rounded understanding of the digital world.”
The committee also called for the government to establish a Children’s Digital Champion.
Committee chair Lord Best said: “In the past 20 years, the internet has become an all-encompassing aspect of growing up. One minister described this as ‘almost the largest social experiment in history’.
“It is in the whole of society’s interest that children grow up to be empowered, digitally confident citizens. This is a shared responsibility for everyone, it is essential that we improve opportunities for children to use the internet productively; improve digital literacy; change the norms of data collection and to design technology in ways that support children by default.
“We believe that children must be treated online with the same rights, respect and care that has been established through regulation in offline settings such as television and gambling.”
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