Promoting interaction skills plays an important part in media education

In Finland, the international Safer Internet Day (SID) is a part of the Media Literacy Week (MLW). During the week, organisations, associations and companies showcase their work that promotes media education.

Date 2016-03-18 Author Finnish Safer Internet Centre
Key areas in the media education work carried out by the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (MLL) have been, especially, young children's right to the safe use of the internet as well as supporting a media use that promotes the wellbeing of the user and others. During the past year, parents have also been encouraged to think about media use in the family from the point of view of children; for instance, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare published the Kohtaamisia (Encounters) video clip that depicts media use in the context of everyday life of families with children as a part of last year's Media Literacy Week.
This year, the theme of the Media Literacy Week is ‘Play your part for a better internet', that strongly highlights the importance of collaboration in media education.  It is important to help parents and educators understand how they can help children grow to be responsible agents who respect their own and others' wellbeing online as well.
New online contexts create a wide range of new requirements for developing children. Children need guidance and support to act responsibly and in a respectful way in various social groups.  Thus, for MLL the promotion of interaction skills is essential.  The best supporters for exploring and pondering challenging situations are parents, grandparents and other caregivers and professionals who work with children.
The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare has published media education leaflets for parents and educators, such as Eight questions about children's media use, Media mukana lapsen arjessa (Media in the everyday life of children) and Media meidän perheessä (Media and our family). At the beginning of this year, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare started organising meetings and training events for the parents and teachers of small children to enhance media education at home. One-to-one conversational help in digital media matters offered by trained volunteers is available at the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare helpline by phone or letter service. 
Just before the Media Literacy Week, MLL disseminated the ‘Guidebook for Health Care Professionals' to all maternal clinics in Finland. The professionals are encouraged to speak with families, both parents and children, about their media consumption habits. By bringing up media use issues at an early stage, parents are in a good position to support their children in developing a healthy and positive relationship with media and to prevent possible media disadvantages from arising. This requires that parents also consider their own relationship with media and the purposes of using media. 
For early childhood education, pre-schools and primary schools, the Sävyisästi yhdessä (Good-natured coexistence) material was produced for the Media Literacy Week in collaboration with the Oivalluksia eskarista (Insights from the pre-school) initiative of the Helsinki Department of Early Education and Care. The underlying idea of the material was to discuss matters related to (social) interaction, feelings and bodiliness using media education and digital devices. The material includes tips and ideas for practicing and exploring different ways of expressing oneself.
Other materials produced for the Media Literacy Week also offer tools for learning media skills together with children. We play our part for a better internet when we teach our children to respect others in all communication and learning environments. ‘Play your part for a better internet' is a current theme in over a hundred countries as part of the Safer Internet Day campaign. How do you, as a parent or professional educator, promote a better internet?
Find out more about the Finnish Safer Internet Centre
Satu Valkonen
Senior Development Planner of Media Education
Mannerheim League for Child Welfare
Finnish Safer Internet Centre

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