We often hear that new media poses a threat to our children. How do they learn the dangers of online interaction and how do they equip themselves for this new world? We can bore them senseless with school lessons on the subject but if we really want children to be aware of risk we'll need fairy tales.
For centuries we've used fairy tales to teach children not to talk to strangers, to avoid getting lost in the woods and not to break into houses owned by bears. They need updating for the digital age. Here are a few suggestions:
Little Red Riding Hood
When her granny sends her a friend request on Facebook, Little Red Riding Hood doesn't check the details too closely. When 'granny' invites her to a housewarming party at her new shack in the woods, Little Red Riding Hood goes along. Unfortunately, granny was the wolf in disguise. Little Red Riding Hood is almost saved by a passing woodcutter but he's listening to music and has headphones on. She is eaten by the wolf.
After receiving an email from a Nigerian sorcerer-prince who says he has a plan to buy a magic lamp that will make them both rich, Aladdin eagerly hands over his bank account details. Having heard nothing back he travels to Nigeria in search of the sorcerer. The sorcerer traps him in a cave with an old lamp. He rubs the lamp and a wolf comes out and eats him.
The Boy Who Blogged Wolf
Peter runs a popular blog in which he rants in shrill tones about political issues of the day. He's constantly outraged about outlandish-sounding Government plans such as replacing the pound with secondhand German Marks or installing CCTV in everyone's sugar bowl. None of the plans he complains about come to anything so when he blogs about the Government's plans to chase political bloggers with wolves, nobody believes him. He is eaten by a wolf.
Jack and Beanz talk
Jack's mum needs a computer to help her manage her growing farming business so she sends Jack to market to sell a cow and buy a Mac. But on the way Jack meets Steve Ballmer, who convinces him to trade the cow for a PC running the new Microsoft operating system, Magic Beanz, instead. Jack's mum is annoyed and becomes even more annoyed when her computer gets the new Giant virus. Unable to get the computer working she sends Jack back to town for a Mac. Unfortunately he gets lost in the woods and is eaten by a wolf.
The Princess and the Email
The Princess receives a cursed email from a wicked witch that says unless she forwards it to 15 friends before midnight she will be eaten by a wolf. She deletes the email. She is not eaten by a wolf because there is no such thing as a curse, silly.
If you have any ideas for how we can update classic fairy tales, let me know in the comments.