Online safety and media literacy diagnostic test in Latvia

  • Awareness
  • 21/12/2018
  • Latvian Safer Internet Centre

In April 2018, the Latvian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) organised a comprehensive diagnostic test to assess third and sixth grade pupils' knowledge about online safety, media literacy and critical thinking. In total, 420 schools across Latvia took part in the test, which is more than 60 per cent of all schools in the country.

The results show that, although digital skills of pupils are satisfactory, some aspects need significant improvement, especially regarding online safety, critical thinking, and children's use of educational content on the internet.

The goal of the diagnostic test was to evaluate the knowledge of Latvian pupils on online safety issues, to measure their ability to assess online content critically, to be familiar with web etiquette in the process of cooperation and communication, as well as to evaluate their ability to see the opportunities provided by the internet in learning school subjects.

The diagnostic test was organised by the Latvian SIC in cooperation with the National Centre for Education. Pupils of grades 3 and 6 from all Latvian educational institutions were invited to take the test. The diagnostic test was organised online and filled in by 17,806 pupils. They could fill the test in their native language: 14,477 pupils chose Latvian and 3,329 chose Russian. The diagnostic test included the following themes: online safety; critical thinking; communication and cooperation; the internet in education; and knowledge of legal matters and copyright.

We can see from the analysis of pupils' answers that knowledge by sixth-graders of online safety related issues needs improvement.

  • For example, only 60 per cent of pupils are aware that connecting to a wireless internet network poses risk to their device safety because somebody can connect to their device maliciously and access all the information and photos located there. 40 per cent believe that connecting to a public wireless network is safe or express concern that they will not be able to download large files.
  • Another fact worth paying attention is that, to the question about how pupils would act after having found a website in English with interesting games helping to learn mathematics, 47 per cent of the six-graders said that they would not play these games because "What if maths in other countries differ?". Only 43 per cent would tell about this website to their teacher. Others would not play the games and would wait for the games to be translated into Latvian.
  • If we compare the knowledge of the third-graders and the six-graders asked about unverified information, it is worrying that almost 30 per cent of the six-graders believe that unverified information may be shared on the internet. For example, if they saw on social media that on May 15, all schools will be closed, each third student admitted they would share this information without verifying it. The third-graders are more conscientious: when answering a question about how they would act after receiving a friend's message that May 15 is a day off school, 92 per cent said that they would call the teacher to make sure it is true. Only 5 per cent would forward this information to other children without hesitation.
  • The analysis of the third-graders' attitude to safety related issues show that 79 per cent are aware that a "friend" met on the internet may not say the truth about their age. However, 21 per cent of the children are unaware of what risks deciding to meet with a stranger met online without permission from their parents may pose.
  • A negative fact is that 8.2 per cent of third-graders believe that everything on the internet is reliable information. 17 per cent of the third-graders also believe that instead of searching information on topics which arise their interest or are useful for education, it is better to play games on the internet. Meanwhile a majority of pupils (74 per cent) consider the internet a useful information source.

A positive fact is that, after the diagnostic work, 65 per cent of teachers admitted that they would analyse mistakes made by pupils in the test, so that they could improve their knowledge.

See below the Latvian TV (LTV1) report about the diagnostic test organised in schools.

Find out more information about the work of the Latvian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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