Book of the Month
Savvy Cyber Kids at Home: The Family Gets a Computer, Ben Halpert, Savvy Cyber Kids, Inc., 2014, $15.99
Computers are wonderful and dangerous. The Savvy Cyber Kids non-profit organization’s aim is to make computer use safe for children by making them aware, at an early age, that they must be careful online. In this first book of three, using bright and fun illustrations by Taylor Southerland, author Ben Halpert introduces Tony and Emma, who get a computer delivered to their home.
The Family Gets a Computer presents the concept of a “screen name” and tells children that they should never share their real names or any other personal information on the internet. This is done in a non-frightening way. Mom says: “Okay kids. The computer is ready. Use your Savvy Cyber Kid name and think twice. Not all people online are nice.”
Book two in the series is The Defeat of the Cyber Bully. Tony and Emma are online when another person is not being “nice.” They ask that the person stop, but the meanness continues. They consult their mother who tells them whenever this happens they must tell their parents, grandparents, or a teacher.
The lesson about cyber bullying continues with an explanation that it’s the same thing that can happen on a playground. Mom says, “When you see someone else being bullied, you need to step up and tell the same people you trust.”
The third book is Adventures Beyond the Screen, which introduces youngsters to limiting computer use. When the allotted time for Tony and Emma to be on the computer ends, they don’t want to stop. But mom suggests they make a list of activities they can do indoors and outside that don’t involve a computer.
Computers will remain a part of youngsters’ lives. Teaching them positive ways to use them, to be cautious online, and that there are other important activities that don’t involve technology can’t start too young. Parents should work in a proactive way if they want children to love books, to play outdoors, to have real-life interaction with others, and all the things that being a kid was before screens invaded childhood.
These books are targeted at children aged 3-7. Each one ends with: “Let’s play the Savvy Cyber Kids way. Always safe and protected online every day.”
The newly released paperback books are 8 x 10 inches and have coloring activity pages in the back. The first book is available in English, French, Spanish, and German.