Think about the home corner in preschool. With its toy kitchen full of appliances, it’s a safe, nurturing space where children can act out scenarios like the ones they’ve seen at home in order to make better sense of the world around them. Environments like this encourage children’s imaginations, help them learn to share and co-operate, and can even provide a window into a child’s home life. A child using a toolkit for some pretend DIY might imitate their mother’s way of hammering with her tongue between her teeth, while another with a toy oven might mimic their dad’s whistling as they work.
It’s all part of a process that psychologist Jean Piaget called assimilation.
Essentially, children make sense of new or abstract ideas by fitting them into an existing mental framework. That way, the new ideas become a part of their way of looking at the world, and they can even use them to help you assimilate other
ideas further down the line!
At Natterhub, we believe this is especially important in the realm of online safety. The internet is an abstract space, and while children are often adept when it comes to using technology, their emotional and social maturity doesn’t develop as quickly. That’s why we’ve developed unique tools and lessons, specially designed to present issues of digital citizenship in a real-world context.
From an early age, our interactive lessons re-frame online issues using stories and experiences that children will be familiar with. For example, we use the idea of goodies and baddies in fairy tales to explain why a person’s online avatar doesn’t tell you anything about their personality. Other lessons include surveys that ask questions like “have you ever felt...?”, or “what should you do when…?”, giving children a space to play out a scenario without fear of a bad outcome.
Role play can also be useful for children even if they’re not the ones taking part in it. If children find themselves talking to someone they don’t know online, or even having an argument with a friend, they might not know the best way to deal with it. To help create those real-world scenarios in a calm and controlled environment without using real accounts, teachers also have access to a selection of tools such as fake profiles, which they can use to make up their own posts or even entire conversations between users.
If the internet is like a classroom, then Natterhub is the kitchen play set in the home corner - with far more bells and whistles! It’s a facsimile of social media where pupils can role play safely and think about what it means to be a good digital citizen
. Then, they can assimilate that knowledge into their view of the world as they explore the online world safely, confidently and independently.