Next week, NewTechKids will begin our second year of teaching digital literacy programs at Wereldwijs primary school in Amsterdam Southeast.

We learned a lot from teaching all 650 students in groups 1-8 (ages 4-12 on average). We taught the youngest students in Dutch and the older students in a combination of Dutch and English.

Here are some of our takeaways:

  • Our youngest students are using apps which should not be legally available to them. Students as young as 4 years old in our classes are using apps which are designed for 13 year olds. Most of our students in groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 could easily identify apps such as TikTok, Snapchat, Neflix, Spotify and YouTube and confirmed that they use them at home.
  • Students as old as 12 years old cannot operate laptops and computers well because they are conditioned to use mobile phones and tablets. This includes typing, using a mouse, searching for information, navigating Web sites with more complex taxonomies, finding, opening and operating digital productivity programs like Google Workspace and Microsoft Office, etc.
  • Students in all age ranges can master new, kid-focused apps very quickly with minimal instruction. We introduced a variety of drawing tool apps with differing levels of difficulty and many of our youngest students were able to use all effortlessly. The youngest students (ages 4-6) even figured out the functions when the navigation and buttons were in English.
  • Most of our older students (ages 10-12) did not express major concerns about data surveillance and the mining of their personal and tech usage data because they said that social media is fun, free and convenient.

While we made a great start, there is clearly much more work to be done. This school year, we will continue to find innovative ways to blend technology usage with critical thinking and consideration of the ethical issues raised by technology.