7-11 year olds
Children this age are frequent and increasingly self-assured internet users. Whether it’s research for a project, games, apps, video content, or their first experiences of social media, they are likely to be seeing and hearing new things online on a near daily basis. By the time children reach this age, they are more likely to be familiar with the idea that not everything they find online is reliable, but may find it challenging to put this understanding into practice and think critically about the information they come across on different online platforms. It’s vital that they are taught how to practise and develop their critical thinking skills, as well as which contexts they need to apply them in. This will help them navigate the internet with increasing independence and confidence.
What should critical thinking look like for children aged 7-11?
For many children aged 7-11, the immediacy of the online world is hugely appealing. Having all the answers at their fingertips makes it easy to get caught up in the momentum of being online, when instead it’s important to stop and reflect on the new things they see, hear and learn. In particular, 7-11 year olds should begin thinking more carefully about the sources they receive information from. What form do these sources take and who actually creates and publishes them?
For many 7-11 year olds, watching online video content will account for a lot of their online activity. This could be an interesting starting point for discussions around critical thinking – find several videos on the same topic and discuss where they come from.
- Are any more or less trustworthy?
- Do they all give the same information?
- Do any of the videos say different things to each other?
Similarly children this age should begin to compare their online findings with their prior knowledge of the subject. Why not look at some videos on a subject your child is already interested in? Ask them:
- Does this information match what you already know about this subject?
- Do we know enough about this subject to be able to decide if this video is reliable or not?
Ultimately, children this age need to recognise that if they’re not sure about the source, or the new information they have found seems at odds with what they already knew then they need to think twice before accepting what they’ve learnt at face value. To help make an informed decision, they could seek out further reliable information or guidance from an adult they know and trust.
Top Tips to share with children aged 7-11
- Consider the source – Where has this information come from and do we have reason to trust it? Has it come from an expert or has it come from someone who has something to gain by getting us to believe what they’re saying? (E.g. An advert will always want to make the product being sold sound good, to convince us to buy it!)
- Consider your own knowledge – What do we already know about this subject? Does what we’re seeing online match-up with this? Or does it contradict it? Do we know enough about this subject to be able to make an accurate judgement on its reliability?
Not sure about the source or your own knowledge? Then it’s time to think twice!
- Check another source – there’s lots of information out there so let’s see what else we can find on this subject. Check another website, watch another video or maybe even find a book on the same topic. The more sources that seem to say the same thing, and the more reliable those sources, the more confident we can be that the information can be trusted!
- Check with an adult – still not sure? Maybe all the sources still have different information to one another?We can always ask an adult we trust for help. Sometimes there is no right answer – and that’s okay, but it’s best to have all the information and points of view before we make a decision.
Conversation starter ideas
- What do you enjoy learning about online?
- Where do you find information online? What form does it take (e.g. video, news, blog, etc)?
- How do you decide if you can trust something online?
- What could you do if you found information online which you didn’t think was true?
- Who can help you if you see something online that you’re not sure about?
Resources to share with your child
The webpages below are designed specifically for children aged 8-11 years old and introduce themes of reliability and critical thinking. Why not share them with your child and start the conversation at home?