The Blurb On The Back:
What do you do to keep safe online?
What should you share online? How do you search safely? How can you be a good online friend? In this book find out all about Internet safety and how to behave in an online world.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
You can order LIFE ONLINE by Sarah Ridley, Anne Rooney and Ryan Wheatcroft from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK. I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Sarah Ridley writes and edits educational books for children and young people. Anne Rooney is an experienced writer of non-fiction for children and adults. Ryan Wheatcroft is an experienced children’s book illustrator. This solid introduction to online safety for readers aged 6+ (part of a series) covers most of the core issues but I wished it had addressed in-game purchases and in-game currency as it’s something children need to understand.
I’d previously read and reviewed another book in this series – ME AND MY WORLD – MY FRIENDS – which I thought was a useful guide to making friends and how friendships work. This book is in the same vein but looks at online safety, which is incredibly important given how much time everyone – young readers included – spend on line these days.
This is a comprehensive guide to many of the issues that young readers should consider when going online, from online searching and internet safety to password security, protecting your identity and personal information to social interactions and gaming (including limiting your time online) and cyber bullying and what to do if you’re not having a good time online. Ridley and Rooney explain difficult subjects in a clear and easy to understand way and Wheatcroft’s illustrations and sensitively done and feature good diversity. There’s a useful glossary at the back to explain some of the words used in the book together with a list of UK and Australian websites offering further resources (although I think these are aimed more at parents, care givers and educators than at the young readers, which is a shame).
I particularly liked how Ridley and Rooney emphasise the benefits of the internet and the cool things that you can do on it rather than just focusing on potential dangers. I also think that they manage to get across the need to be careful without being patronising or talking down to the reader.
Where I did think the book was missing a trick though was in relation to talking about playing games on line. To be fair, Ridley and Rooney do warn that some games cost money to download and say that readers should ask an adult before clicking ‘buy’ or ‘purchase’. That’s fine as far as it goes, but I think a further paragraph was needed to point out that if you’re in a game and it has a currency (e.g. gems, stars or whatever) and you’re given a chance to either buy more or buy extra time or a ‘loot box’ to enhance your gaming character or whatever, then the same costs real money and that in such a situation you should still go and ask permission before doing it. I say this because it is surprising how many children do not realise that when they buy the gems, loot box, extra time or whatever, they are actually costing their parents real money that can rack up very quickly.
In a similar vein, I think it would also have been worth a mention that where parents set controls on, e.g. Wi-Fi or a computer/tablet device, then it’s for the protection of the reader and as a result, they should not be seeking to avoid or get around the same. I know that this is a difficult conversation to have with young readers but having heard from friends with young children how often they try to get around controls, it’s something I think should be addressed.
Obviously, a book of this type can’t cover everything and I certainly don’t think that the omissions work against it. Indeed, I think this book is a great way of introducing young readers to the great things you can do on the Internet while also showing them why it’s good to be careful and cautious. As such, if you have young readers who are beginning to clamour for more Internet access, this books offers a solid guide for them.