Yesterday, Tuesday 11th Feb, was Safer Internet Day 2020 and in order to support it, WWSET’s education team spent the day at Castlefield Primary School where they delivered an assembly to the x300 key stage 2 pupils in the morning, followed by safer internet workshops for x90 year 6 pupils.
Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre the annual celebration sees thousands of organisations get involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
The UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) is a partnership of three leading charities – Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) – with a shared mission to make the internet a better place for children and young people.
Globally, Safer Internet Day is celebrated in over a hundred countries with the theme ‘Together for a better internet’. Safer Internet Day 2019 reached nearly half of UK children (46%), and over a quarter of parents (26%), thanks to the crucial support of over 2,100 businesses, government departments, schools, police services and charities who together are working year on year to:
- Empower children and their parents so they know how to keep themselves safe online
- Encourage parents to have a conversation with their children about the safe use of technology
- Increase awareness of when and where to report, and where to go to for help
- Inspire children to come together and help create a better internet
This year, Safer Internet Day in the UK focused on encouraging young people to explore how they manage their online identity, and how the internet shapes how they think of themselves and others, and used the headline “Free To Be Me”. The aim of the day was to celebrate difference and create a truly inclusive internet by focusing on what makes up peoples online identity, such as:
- The facts or characteristics about them
- How others perceive and interact with them
- How online services identify them.
- How offline stereotypes and discrimination are challenged or reinforced online
- Whether the internet allows all young people to express themselves, or if they feel limited in whom they can be online.
The assembly and workshops WWSET delivered at Castlefield Primary School sought to empower the young pupils to explore and gain a greater understanding of ‘online identities’ and open up discussions about how the internet shapes the way that they think of themselves and others. During the sessions, the children discussed what creates their identity online – such as the things they share with each other, how others perceive them and interact with them, as well as how online services use the information they share to identify and profile people – and talked about different scenarios young people may face online, in order to learn about how they can represent themselves online in a safe and positive way.
The children, in small groups, were tasked with thinking about everything they do online, both in the home and at school, and answer questions around things like ‘What does their username say about them?’, ‘Do they know who they are actually communicating with online?’, ‘What words/pictures are they posting and how might these affect them in the future?’.
A key question then asked was: “Does freedom of expression have a limit and if so what is it?”.
An excellent discussion followed with differing points of view expressed, from “We should be able to write anything we want online” through to “We should only put positive things about other people”.
All agreed that, in the end, being behind a screen doesn’t mean that you should write whatever you want to if it is hurtful to other people.
The session finished with reminders about what you should do if you get upset or unsure about things online – speak to an appropriate adult – your parents or your teachers.
We look forward to supporting Safer Internet Day again next year but in the meantime, a big thanks to Castlefield Primary for hosting us and we hope that all their students who participated took some valuable learning away from the sessions.