It’s something that many teachers, parents and children themselves are concerned about: the proliferation of sexual content online and the ready access that even very young children have to it.
We set out to understand the issue better by hosting a range of focus groups with children and teaching professionals, asking about their attitudes, approaches and thoughts behind online sexual content (see the infographic we produced from this work). Our original plan was a series of best practice guidelines but what we heard time and again was the need for a course that would give the kids the tools to understand this new world, and to give both teachers and parents piece of mind.
Over the course of a year, we developed this: the eight-part AtFirstSite course, designed to help children understand, discuss and navigate the complex issues surrounding online sexual content both in the media and on the Internet.
While there are tireless efforts going on to shield children from inappropriate sexual content across the globe, we decided what was missing was education. Our start point was that kids are extremely likely to see this sort of material and so they should be in a position to make sense of it when they do. Our hope is that it will help build a foundation of understanding on top of which which they can build as they grow up.
The course is designed to fit on with the typical classroom approach: a seven-part course with each part running for 45 minutes, complete with presentations, worksheets and teacher’s notes. The first part introduces the ideas and concepts, and the last part ties the course together and empowers children with what they have learnt.
In between, we tackle what forms online sexual content takes and its impact, including the implications on body image and what children and young people view as ‘normal’. The second half of the course supports young people in taking control and protecting themselves online.
Practice as you preach
We decided that since the course was all about online content, we should make sure that the course itself used online content as much as possible.
For that reason, the course contains real examples of online content and contains links through to examples and resources online (such as YouTube videos or guidelines). In order to keep the course up-to-date, we intend to constantly update the course as new examples appear and old examples become less relevant (who knows who will be the next Miley Cyrus?).
In keeping with this thinking, the course is provided as a digital download, with all the relevant documents immediately downloadable from this website and coming in both PDF and Powerpoint formats as these are what teachers told us they were most comfortable with. As we update the course, we will let customers knows we have done so they can simply download the latest version.
We have a lot more information about the course and its approach. You can take a sneak peek at the content of each of the seven parts at our online shop.