Independent Bonn International School

Smart Camp teaches Bonn school children about Smartphones

Youtuber Julez (Julian Weibach, r.) stellt sich (v.l.) Carver, Samuel, Finn und Daniela aus dem „6th grade“ vor.

Youtube star Julez (Julian Weibach, right) introduces himself to sixth graders (from left) Carver, Samuel, Finn and Daniela.

Heiderhof. A Smart Camp gave students at the Independent Bonn International School a peek behind the scenes of the digital world and taught them what to look out for when using Smartphones, tablets and computers.

When a Youtube star like Julez comes to your school, fun is guaranteed. Julian Weißbach, who has worked with Luke Mockridge, is not only funny in his video clips. In only a few minutes he had the 6th graders onside with his friendly and open manner – and all in English. But the coming days will not just be exciting for these 10 and 11 year olds; 150 schoolchildren from the Independent Bonn International School (Ibis) will get new insights into the digital world at the Smart Camp, which runs until Wednesday. They will also learn how to avoid the pitfalls of using Smartphones, tablets and computers.

And there are many such pitfalls, from being too careless about inputting personal data, e-mails or bullying when using programmes such as Whatsapp. These are not problems limited to Ibis and children are encountering them at an increasingly early age. “Today, nine-year-olds are already asking for Instagram accounts. Previously it was 13-year-olds,” says Nathalie Thelen, head of the Volunteer Parents at the international school in Heiderhof. She likes the fact that any school can host the Smart Camp. It has already been to the Integrated Comprehensive School twice as well as to the Nicolaus-Cusanus-Gymnasium and the Otto-Kühne-Schule.

However, the camp at Heiderhof is the first time the service offered by the Bonner BG 3000, a so-called Social Impact Start Up concerned with digital education, has taken place in English. “It’s important to introduce young people to communications media early,” says camp leader Alina Lux. Other countries invest more in digital education. Thelen is convinced that good knowledge in this field is important for all jobs today.

However, Carsten Senz, from Huawei, one of the scheme’s sponsors, says there is often a shortage of equipment in schools. Other countries, such as Japan and Korea, are more advanced. “However, you also need to recognise the risks,” says Andreas Bothe, State Secretary of the NRW Family Ministry, who paid a visit to the camp.

The Smart Camp is intended for children from seven years of age. School director Irene Bolik said the youngest pupils would first be introduced to the technology.

Eleven-year-old Finn finds it all very exciting and hopes to learn something in the coming days. “I want to know how I can use apps correctly and more carefully in the future,” he says. Samuel (11) wants to do everything properly in future when posting news on social networks.

Carver, from the United States, who is the same age, had to read defamatory statements about him and his mother, which included swearwords. But he stays calm: “When someone writes something bad about me, I don’t care, because it’s not true.” Interacting respectfully on net is one of the main topics of the project days. Julez, like all the other experts, is working towards the schoolchildren not only using communications media in the future, but also actively and consciously shaping them, without losing the fun.

(Original text: Richard Bongartz. Translated by Kate Carey)