Children, young people and adult mentors will find a wide range or practical, real-world resources in German and English language at: www.medienabersicher.de.
"Media, sure! But secure.": Deutsche Telekom is aware of its responsibility to support people, regardless of their age, skills or background, in using digital media securely, critically and creatively. And in having fun in the process.
Ms. Costanzo, do children today automatically acquire digital literacy?
Children tend to use digital media very instinctively and matter-of-factly. In today's world, once they reach a certain age, we expect them to be carrying their phones constantly and using them to communicate with their friends, play games and search the Internet. That does not automatically lead to digital literacy, however. Digital literacy – the ability to use digital media responsibly and securely, and even create media – is something altogether different. It's also something that people of all ages can now benefit from, regardless of their background.
How can we promote digital literacy?
We should start encouraging children to use digital media when they are very young. Just as importantly, we need to be encouraging non- digital natives as well. The two groups usually call for different approaches, however. Whereas children usually need better awareness, older people often need some gentle nudging. But all people need to understand how it all works – and how to benefit from digital media and minimize the risks.
Furthermore, our society needs to ensure that it does not become digitally divided. If we want good media education, therefore, all players need to be involved: children, parents, families, schools, policymakers and companies. As a leading telecommunications company, we are aware that we have a special responsibility. We want to enable all people, regardless of whatever knowledge and skill levels they may have, to profit from the opportunities inherent in digitalization.
What aspects of digital media should we be especially mindful of?
Digitalization is changing many areas of our lives. The challenge is to move beyond mindless consumption and to seek to understand – and even influence – digital media. This includes such things as reflecting on the value of personal data, understanding how opinions are influenced and thinking about what artificial intelligence can do and what it should not be allowed to decide.
What role is your Media, sure! But secure. initiative playing in this regard?
On the website "Media, sure! But secure.", we have combined a wide range of resources designed to promote digital-media literacy for people of all ages – children, adolescents and adults (including senior citizens). Along with what one might expect, we have made sure to include unusual topics that we also think are important, such as the darknet, or digital estates. In addition to all kinds of information, people will find resources for teamwork and guides for "multipliers." And it's all available in German, English, and simple language.
We are proud to say that we offer a quality overview for every topic, covering everything from the relevant legal framework to practical examples, and from applications to the technical background. The presentation style is lively and engaging; we want people to enjoy themselves as they explore and learn.
Should we be giving children an extra measure of help?
We adults set examples. And we do so even if we are still unsure about some aspects of digitalization. With its Teachtoday initiative, Deutsche Telekom has long been providing practical assistance on digital media issues. For instance, it offers a sensible agreement on cell phone use that parents can enter into with their kids. That's just one example; Teachtoday provides a whole range of easy-to-use resources.
"Scroller," a children’s media magazine, speaks to children in age-appropriate language. At the same time, it covers even complex issues, such as data privacy. In presenting our resources for parents and teachers, we want to motivate people to inform themselves, discuss the issues and try things out together. If we can reach people with these resources, then we will be helping them shape their own digital future.