This “First Talk About Online Safety” focuses on interpersonal relationships.
Roberts, a child psychologist, explains social media, personal boundaries, and cyberbullying. Simple, cloying language in the primary narrative contrasts with more sophisticated sidebars, which define terms such as “inappropriate” (inadequately) and “crowdfunding” (well enough). Full-color illustrations and photographs show a multiracial cast of children looking concernedly at smartphones, bathing in the glow of a laptop, or gathering around a tablet. In an apparent attempt to avoid alarming children, the text sacrifices cleareyed communication for vague moralizing. Immediately, readers discover “there are things on the Internet that are not very good,” and while “Most people post things that are interesting or nice to see…sometimes people use the Internet to say unkind things or behave in ways that are inappropriate or mean.” On the subject of boundaries, children learn that “When people on the Internet share too much private information about themselves or someone else, the ones who see it often feel really uncomfortable.” A prescriptive explanation about “Online Friends vs. Real-Life Friends” doesn’t acknowledge differing realities of online friendship and support, and the closing pivots from serious (“Thinking about this stuff makes me kind of uncomfortable and angry”) to optimistic (“How can I use the Internet in a way that will be good for me and others?”) and borders on melodrama.
Caregivers may find this useful as a starting point, but this brand-new title already feels dated. (Informational picture book. 5-8)