Open Access
UNESCO and AU's Media and Information Literacy Course


Open Access
UNESCO and AU's Media and Information Literacy Course

Unit 9 – Internet Challenges and Opportunities for Children and Youth

cartoon keyboard, calculator and wave form


Taking part in the information society has become essential for citizens of all age groups, not only for keeping up to date with political, social and cultural events, but for the workplace as well. Participating safely on the Internet poses risks to all users, no matter what their age, education, or profession. As with any media use, people must be knowledgable and aware.

Children and young people are often well acquainted with Internet applications and can benefit hugely from their use. Children and youth who are media and information literate can develop research and critical thinking skills, have increased access to information and knowledge, and improved opportunities to connect with children and youth from other cultures. However, children and youth who are not media and information literate can be vulnerable to the same risks and threats that exist for them in the physical world. Just as in normal family life, we can protect our children and youth only to a certain extent. For them to be truly safe on the Internet, education is the best protection.  

many images of a little girl looking at and playing with a mobile phoneParents and youth-serving professionals have two choices: attempt to limit access to the Internet in a highly structured and monitored context; or monitor children’s Internet use while teaching them media awareness and improving their digital literacy. The first choice may shield children for a short period of time, but does not prepare them for later exposure to the Internet. The second choice protects children while also providing them with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to be safe and act responsibly at times when an adult is not present.

Photo credit: Penny's Computer Book (Reference) by Christa Mrgan CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo credit: Niece & My Nokia 6230i (by Nikon D70) by Spitzgogo_CHEN (Nokia 6230i) CC BY-NC 2.0

Check out the Course Glossary.

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