Children and parents developing media skills

The association organises media courses for parents and children with the aid of donations from SWITCH. We look back on its work in 2016.

Text: Séverine Jagmetti, published on 06.12.2016

A year ago, SWITH supported the association with a Christmas donation. This has allowed it to offer out-of-school media courses for children up to middle-school age and their parents throughout 2016. It works in close partnership first and foremost with libraries as well as leisure and parental education organisations in German-speaking Switzerland.

In view of the positive feedback received, SWITCH has decided to donate once again so that these activities can be continued. Sharmila Egger, course developer at, tells us how the launch of the out-of-school media courses went and how they were received by the target group.

SWITCH: Sharmila Egger, what is the idea behind the out-of-school media courses offered by
Sharmila Egger: Parents kept asking for hands-on courses. We know from experience that teaching media skills works best when parents and children use a tablet or smartphone together. However well versed their parents may be, children can still teach them a thing or two about playing Minecraft, for example. This way, they can be on the device together for hours without any arguments about spending too much time online or being addicted to games.

We were also keen to bring new partners on board. These out-of-school media courses have opened up a whole new setting for us. They’re about sketching, experimenting and telling stories together – and learning all about digital security at the same time.

How have participants responded to the courses?
Some parents were wary to start with. They would have preferred just to turn up with their children rather than having to do any of the exercises themselves, but they soon got stuck in once they’d had a little time to get used to the idea. They even proved to be rather adventurous when it came to exploring all the different features in apps. The children, meanwhile, sometimes had trouble explaining things to their parents without taking the tablet or phone out of their hands. It was exciting to observe the process, and the feedback we received made it clear that parents and children alike really appreciated this interaction and enjoyed the courses.

You can only become media-savvy if you aren’t scared to try new things and never forget to read the small print.

How savvy are the parents and children who attended the courses as regards using new media?
We deliberately designed the courses so that no prior knowledge is needed. There were mothers who had never used a tablet before, fathers who are mad about Minecraft and children who have already learned how to draw in CAD programs. The focus was on learning from each other. The parents liked to use our written step-by-step instructions, whereas the children simply tried things out for themselves. You can only become media-savvy if you aren’t scared to try new things and never forget to read the small print. 

How important is security on the Internet for these parents and children?
The parents were very grateful for our expert input on security issues – pitched at a level that children could also understand. There were also a few children at every course who approached us with their own questions about security.

Courses like these have a lot of potential to bring parents and children together to have fun and talk about security-related topics.

What conclusions have you drawn from the first run of courses?
I’ve noticed that courses like these have a lot of potential to bring parents and children together to have fun and talk about security-related topics. However, a great deal of work went into preparing them. Overall, I’m proud of what we achieved in such a short time. We could never have afforded to take on such an ambitious project without SWITCH’s financial support.

What are your plans for continuing the courses in 2017?
Standardisation is crucial for to reduce the workload in terms of preparing the courses. Another goal for 2017 is to work with additional target groups and organisers. Corporate events, fairs and courses for families at home are all under consideration. We’ve lost count of the number of requests we’ve received. People have asked for parent-child social media coaching, data protection tuition and "YouTube for Dummies". We might even start programming apps with families in 2017 – who knows?

Sharmila Egger

Sharmila Egger has a degree in psychology and specialises in motivation and educational psychology. Working as a course developer at since 2014, she has many years’ experience in the use of digital media, specifically in teaching. Sharmila Egger played a key role in developing out-of-school media courses for children and parents with financial support from SWITCH’s Christmas donation.

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