LEGO: Build and Talk
It’s difficult these days to find kids and young teens who aren’t super familiar with the internet. Tablet and phone ownership and access is high. According to YouGov 2020, 85% of 6 year olds have access to a tablet at home while 40% of them own one; almost half of 6 year olds also have access to a mobile phone at home. Kids and young teens are certainly early adopters of new technology and are usually the ones teaching their parents / caregivers how to use new apps or navigate through different platforms.
Whilst kids are increasingly tech savvy, the internet has a lot of risks and potential harm attached to it that kids might not be savvy enough to recognise. Parents and caregivers are increasingly worried about what their children might be accessing and viewing online, but this can be such a difficult thing to monitor. Parents want to warn their kids of the dangers the online world poses to them but without scaring them or making them fearful of using the internet that is otherwise a super useful and fun tool.
LEGO has introduced a new initiative to help parents start those conversations in a fun, engaging and accessible way for kids. Their tool not only allows parents to warn kids about the dangers of the internet but also allows for kids to voice any concerns they might have to their parents. The idea is that parents and kids can build LEGO alongside an online interactive story that tells them about an issue of online safety in a kid friendly way. There’s also a page of conversation starter questions that will help kids get talking about their own experiences.
Some of the activities look at personal behaviours such as screen time and some which focus on other people online such as false information and cyberbullying. Whilst all of these topics are important, cyberbullying struck a chord with me because of the pervasive nature of it online and the direct impact it can have on young people’s mental health. Young adults who experience cyberbullying are twice more likely to self harm and have suicidal thoughts (JMIR publications). A tool like this that aims to tackle the issue from a young age could contribute towards making a very needed change, which I am very here for.
There are definitely other online safety platforms that already have similar tools to help parents talk about online safety with kids, such as internet matters, but what makes this one a bit different is the mammoth brand LEGO that it comes from. Combining the popular activity of building LEGO blocks with talking about something serious is a clever way to make the ‘difficult to approach’ conversations far more accessible.