‘Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy’ — A Review

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy, by Bilal Soylu & Paritica Aluskewicz, illustrations by Olga Pietraszek. XcooBee LLC. Printed by Amazon. 61 p. ISBN 9781095474815.

This book is designed for parents and other caregivers to read with children around five years old, kindergarten age. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers that lurk online, which is a relevant topic for today’s young learners. The book aims to educate young children about the importance of privacy when online, such as not sharing information with strangers. The characters are animals, some representing children, others adults, and the cartoon-like illustrations would probably appeal to a child this age.

A  page from Buzzy’s Adventures in Online Privacy.

However, I’m not convinced the book would be effective. It seems to have a dual personality, each of which is directed at a separate audience. The story that is directed at children addresses various issues at their level. It shows young animals on the Internet playing online games and using various apps being approached by strangers obtaining personal information in the guise of friendship. 

Then the adults step in. This story is interspersed with a series of warnings and cautions from adults, such as parents and teachers. These cautionary pages do what adults often do when talking to children: they tend toward the pedantic. The cautions give too much information so that a child may either become confused or tune out.

This focus on the adult perspective probably would not be effective with young children.

The story also contains multiple warnings, another action that Greenberg (2012), a psychologist, says is not really effective to teaching children about what not to do. There are six pages of discussion prompts to use when reading the book with a child to make it more interactive, but many of the questions are eliciting facts about the story, not really connecting to the child’s own experience. According to Greensberg, adults need to listen to children to learn what worries them and how they perceive actions.

After the story ends, there is a 20-page section, “Guidelines for Parents and Caregivers,” devoted to telling the adults how to use this book. It includes some information on child development from ages 0-
24. It talks about apps and how they use advertising to get personal information. It cautions against the prevalence of connectivity in the home and on mobile devices. It also addresses some issues with social media, online games, and video-sharing sites.

While the idea behind this book, to help young children understand the perils of the Internet, is relevant and important, it is aimed at parents and their concerns in a way that seems rather heavy-handed. This focus on the adult perspective probably would not be effective with young children.

References

Greenberg, Melanie. “Worst mistakes parents make when talking to kids.Psychology Today, 18 Sep. 2012.

2 Responses

  1. One of the courses that I was required to take in my EDCI curriculum for secondary English was Adolescent Lit, and I was prepared to be bored to death. To my surprise, it was the best course in my entire ed program. I’m sure the professor, Dick Alm, had a lot to do with it. (Dick and Julie Alm were the magnets that drew me to English Ed.) Literature for children and adolescents is a completely different genre requiring a whole new set of standards, and delving into what works and what doesn’t work with young readers was eye-opening and exhilarating. It takes a unique talent to be able to connect with school-age children. The books that we read then are still among my favorites, and I’m sure that love, years later, attracted me to and made me appreciate the Harry Potter series. Lynn, your review is a reminder that writing for children is a lot harder than it seems. I’d go so far as to say that it’s probably even harder than writing for adults. -Jim

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s