Thursday, 13 November 2014

Spain's Civil Guard uses superheroes to educate kids on Internet risks

Using the popular and enigmatic characters from the movie world of superheroes, along with quite a few Disney characters, the Civil Guard in Spain has begun a new set of workshops in Madrid aimed at informing third and fourth grade children about the dangers of the Internet.

Using a giant TV screen, the first class was held on November 5 at the Nuestra Señora del Carmen school in Madrid.  It began with the words, “You should never give your personal details online without the permission of your parents, or create a profile on the social networks until you reach 14.”

Children tend to be trusting and it is far too easy for the wrong people to take advantage of them online.  All the pupils in the class were familiar with the various apps, like WhatsApp, Skype and YouTube, but most were completely unaware of the basic rules and etiquette of using the Internet and the various social networks.  This was the first of around 6,000 more classes to be held all over Spain during the coming months. 

Arsenio Fernández de Mesa, director general of the Civil Guard told the assembled children, “I bet the majority of you have better smartphones and tablets than your parents, but you still need to be careful,” adding, “There are bad people out there who will try to get to know you through the internet. What we’re about to tell you is so that from now on you will use it properly and nobody will be able to hurt you.”

On the TV screen, the Hulk warns the children,  “It is forbidden to pretend to be somebody else, or record somebody on your phone without their permission and then upload it to the Internet.”

In the classroom, Captain Carlos Igual of the division that investigates crimes against minors is on hand to advise the children.  He told El País, “A teenager is old enough to understand a serious message about online safety, but younger children aren’t.”

“Cartoons are a way to get that message over in a friendly manner, and to help them interiorize what we are trying to say,” he added, explaining that some parents are unaware of how the Internet functions and exactly what their children do online.

Igual said that most parents, and even many teachers, don't really know what Twitter is, for example. While some teachers have already contacted the Civil Guard requesting talks on online safety, the Civil Guard will also be organizing workshops for parents and teachers on the subject, but without the help of the Hulk this time.

Spanish sources:

El País
20 Minutos

Photo credits:
Hulk: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Eneas De Troya
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