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The Internet, a tool to develop children's critical thinking

From March 20 to 28, it's the feast of the Internet. The time to ask the question of the relationship of children to this gigantic world web where we can find the best, as well as the worst… Testimonials from parents who tell us how to browse the Internet with their children.


Teach them not to believe everything we read on the Internet"What is difficult to make children understand is that the information that is sometimes found on the Internet is wrong. Don't believe everything you read. However, children naturally trust the Internet blindly. To show them the veracity of our words, with my husband, we did a small test: on a specific subject, search for information on several sites and compare. It is sometimes very uplifting!!!»
The Internet allows children to develop their critical thinking "The veracity or otherwise of the information that children seek and then find on the Internet is a matter of their critical thinking. This is developing with the use of a tool as vast as the Internet. With him, the child gropes, observes, makes mistakes, retraces his steps, he has the right to make mistakes, which makes him a real Internet machine. Children learn everything by themselves, and they have not finished surprising us.

The generations to come will be impressive, especially since we do not know how far the Internet will develop (we are only at the beginning!). It is imperative that there is parental control behind the use of children and teens. The Internet is rich, too rich and of course perverted by misuse. »

How to introduce them to the Internet?

A formidable information and communication tool, the Internet has become essential, especially among young people. But surfing well, it can be learned. Nathalie Mignot, a documentalist professor at Eugène Thomas College in Le Quesnoy (North), explains how she helps students discover the strengths and weaknesses of the Web.
How do younger people see the Internet?For them, it is a privileged tool that they use to play, watch videos (on Youtube in particular), chat, go on their blog and those of friends, and learn about their passions (football, tuning, series, etc.). From the 6th grade, the vast majority of students have already had access to the Web and some even know better than their parents! But they sometimes have a hard time imagining what the Internet is. They are not necessarily aware of the 'network' side: they do a search on a computer, it does not work as they want, so they change computers! They imagine the Web as another world, completely virtual.
What should I watch out for when they start surfing?We must explain to them that this is a world that is capable of the best and the worst and encourage them to be careful. Dangers exist – they can easily see certain images or read some very violent words (sometimes you just have to get the spelling of a site wrong and you come across something else altogether). Children can also deal with 40-year-olds posing as friends their age… It is our duty to talk to them about all this. I tell them that a 'little red light' should flash in their minds when something doesn't seem normal to them. It is also important to teach them to take a step back from what they find on the Internet.

How do you do it? I teach them to decipher the sites – who is behind it? An official institution? An individual? – and to multiply their sources. When doing a search, students tend to take the first link that comes and settle for it. They need to be shown that the Internet can be riddled with errors and biases. For example, we can make two teams: one on the Internet, the other with dictionaries. And they will see that the Web is not necessarily the panacea… For example, the Wikipedia page on "Delphi" is very well done, but it runs on several pages! With this, a 6th grader is completely lost. They are also encouraged to diversify their search engines (Google, Exalead). There are databases offering lists of sites evaluated in an educational way that also allow us to better orient them. You also warn the youngest against the "Big Brother" side of the Internet… They are not aware of the traces they leave. However, for their future, to be associated with this or that blog, it can be embarrassing. I tell them that when you type my name, you find it on a cooking forum where I asked for a pie recipe… Nothing serious, but that was 10 years ago! I advise them to give as little information as possible about them and to avoid indicating their email at any end of the field. In the same way, they do not know that, when they put on their blog the photos of their boyfriend or girlfriend without their permission (or that of their parents if they are minors), they can be prosecuted for infringement of the right to the image. It is important to open their eyes to all this.

Vigilance and dialogue for safe internet browsing.

As a window on the world, the Internet is proving to be a valuable learning tool for children but is becoming a headache for parents who do not always know how to ensure the safety of their offspring. Laurent Baup from the Internet Rights Forum gives you some keys.


From what age can we introduce a child to the web?Children are interested in the Internet at a very young age, which is positive if they receive responsible support from adults. They are then responsible for setting solid benchmarks from the outset to allow the child to master the tool. Up to 10 years, the child needs to surf in the company of one of the parents.
Doesn't initiating children from an early age risk turning them into web junkies?There is no need to worry, it is even the opposite. Banning children from accessing the Internet is the best way to push them to do anything. The web is a tool that they will have to learn to master in their lives anyway. So even if you're not comfortable with the Net, talk with your kids about what shocks you as a parent. No need to master this tool yourself.

From how many hours spent in front of the screen should parents take action? The question of time is not the right one in reality. It is better to ask whether or not there is a break in the social bond. As long as the child communicates well with those around him and continues his sports activities, it does not matter whether he spends 5 or 10 hours a day in front of his computer screen. Is parental control software effective? To what extent? For a long time, parents thought that this software lacked efficiency. Mistrust is now less necessary because, in recent years, the level of these products has increased. The important thing lies in the setting: for the youngest, say until pre-adolescence, it is better to favor the whitelist system that allows limited navigation to verified sites. Later, teens can benefit from the blacklist system, which means they have the ability to browse freely, except for sites that are considered harmful. What are the topics to discuss during the first connections? By installing control software and correctly setting the whitelist system, the little child surfs safely. Vigilance is due to ensuring that the child does not abandon his other activities, including social. Because habits are taken at that time, during the discovery phase. For the older ones, as soon as they have an email address of their own, the big advice to deliver is never to give their personal details (surname, first name, telephone number). When it comes to offensive content, the best way to react is through dialogue. The goal is to prevent the young person from feeling guilty for coming across a violent image or site. Nothing is worse than an adult who would say "I saw that you went to a porn site so I now forbid you the use of the Internet". Around what age can the child be attracted to chats or forums? In adolescence. Children should then be told to talk only with people they know, people in their class or judo class for example. Some parental control software blocks access to chats, just add them to the blacklist.