The Gezinsbond from Belgium (COFACE member) developed an innovative training programme in 2008 for parents aimed to develop their knowledge and skillset on new media, that their children daily use.
Parents know too little about the online activities of their children and how to deal with that in their children’s education.
Since 2013, they have had an agreement with the Flemish Education Department to provide at least 120 educational activities for parents in schools every year.
Aims of the initiative
The aim is to increase the understanding of and the response of parents to opportunities and risks of online activities to better inform their children. The programme consists of tools – a website www.veiligonline.be (safely online) with accessible information on the topic – and of several interactive training activities.
The training activities are for all families, with a very low access threshold since the admission fees are very low. In September 2017 they updated and renewed the content. The topic safely online is now presented in 5 different interactive modules. These new modules were developed in collaboration with specialized organizations, universities and with feedback from focus groups consisting of parents and professionals, including parents from ‘disadvantaged’ backgrounds (poverty).
Organizations working with disadvantaged people and schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities can book these trainings free of charge for their members/parents.
The programme consists of 5 training sessions (workshops) and online modules: internet & privacy, gaming, social media, cyberbullying, online relations & sexuality. The new modules are now more interactive with testimonials (from parents, children, youth and experts), quiz, simulations, interactive game, testimonials, videos).
Based on the conclusions of an evaluation and impact study of 10 training activities in the Spring of 2019 they renewed the 5 modules.
In addition to the testimonials from teenagers, parents and experts, the participants mainly ask for testimonials from young children and concrete educational tips. They made videos with testimonials from children between 8 and 12 years old in 5 primary schools spread across Flanders and Brussels. They divided each theme into 4 to 6 sub-themes and created a video with testimonials for each sub-theme in which pop-ups with facts, figures and specific educational tips (new methodology) appear.
Parents indicate that after participating in a training, they are more positive about the use of new media and can communicate better with their children about using new media. Half of the participants still apply the parenting tips several weeks after the training.
Nearly 200 training sessions in 2017 and in 2018 (they connected to more than 5000 parents) of which 40 training sessions with disadvantaged families.
www.veiligonline.be (website of the project)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qMN8Z5qOAU&t=1s (short presentation of the project)
www.safelyonline.eu is an Erasmus+ project aimed to upscale this good practice in other EU countries.
Michael Op de Beeck
See similar practices from other European countries in our 2020
COFACE Digital Families Map.