On Tuesday February 5th, 2019, many hundreds of organisations, colleges, schools and businesses will take part in this year’s “Safer Internet Day” with the aim of both celebrating all that is good about the internet whilst raising awareness of the potential risks that this global phenomenon poses, especially to our young people.
Safer Internet Day will promote the positive, safe and responsible use of the internet for children and young people as will include other digital technologies that they have access to as well including gaming devices, tablets and smartphones. Here we look at what Safer Internet Day is, and offer you 6 ways to get involved.
In the UK, the day is coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre, which is a partnership between three charities which are also supported by the European Commission.
Each country has involved has its own Sater Internet Centre. The 3 charities involved in the UK are:
- Childnet International
- The South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL)
- The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
Over the years since its induction, support for Safer Internet Day has expanded and it is now a worldwide event that can have a huge impact in helping keep our children safe online.
THIS YEAR’S THEME “TOGETHER FOR A BETTER INTERNET”
This year, the theme for the day is “Together for a better internet” with the focus on exploring how children (and adults) ‘give consent’ online for their personal information, photos, videos and content to be shared online by themselves and others. The theme aims to give advice and information in user-friendly ways and to make children and young people aware of the responsibilities they have for keeping their information safe, not only for themselves, but also for their friends and colleagues.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
With the growth of Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Tik Tok and Instagram, especially in the hands of some of our younger members of society, and n some circumstances, the internet has become a potentially lethal attraction that some cannot escape. In the UK recently, the tragic case of teenager Molly Russell, who took her own life after seeing images and information about self-harm and suicide online, has led to calls for tighter controls and legal action against the social media sites.
The internet and apps and rife with potential opportunities for people to take, upload and share images of whatever they see fit, that this topic is clearly something that we should all, as responsible adults, be openly talking about and addressing with our children.
In my own case, I have two girls who have mobile phones and use the internet to do their homework, play games and talk to friends, so I have a vested interest in keeping them safe in whatever way I can. It is not about scaring our children, but rather, we need to help them fully understand the potential risks that they face and guide them into developing good habits and controls so that they can help to keep There and their friends safe too. It is about assisting them to take responsibility themselves so that even when we are not there, they are equipped to make the right decisions.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
There are lots of things you can do to help keep the internet a safe place for your family. Here are a few top tips to help you.
1. Talk to your own children
As internet entrepreneurs, I believe it is our duty to help to make our place of business as safe as possible, especially if we are using it to make money. Raising awareness of the risks and talking to our own children is a start. There are many other things that we can do as well which will be the subject of future posts, but for now, helping to keep our own children safe, should be our priority.
There are a myriad of ways to get involved with the day and the Safer Internet Day website includes lots of downloadable resources and links that will help you to open conversations with your own children and young people, including:
- Family internet safety plan
- Ideas for fun things to do around the topic
- Conversation starters
- Hot topics
There are also resources available for educational establishments so if your children’s schools or nurseries are not already running something to do with internet safety, you could point them in the direction of the website and the resources on there which are specifically aimed at schools including lesson plans and assembly ideas.
an organisation who is actively involved in the education and care of young children, you can register as a supporter of Safer Internet Day, use their campaign toolkit to spread the message, and gain access to SIDTV to use as conversation starters. You can also sign up for their free newsletter too with packs being available in English and Welsh.
2. Lead by example – check your own company policies and permissions
If you run a company, then make sure that you have robust policies in place regarding all aspects of using, storing and sharing personal data. If you are within the European Union, then these should all be GDPR-compliant. And remember, that it is not just computers that people use to access the internet. Increasingly people use smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, gaming-platforms and also TVs. Make sure your policies cover you and your customers for using or storing data from all these devices.
3. Run a training session for staff and/or parents
If you would like some more training on how to keep young people (and yourself) safe online, you could look for some more downloadable resources at www.childnet.com
which are specifically aimed and helping you start discussions. If you live in the UK, you could also contact SWGfL, a British partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre who run bespoke training sessions for companies and young people. You can contact them at: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/e-safety-training-events or search for Safer Internet Day in your own country.
4. Publicise your support for Safer Internet Day on your own website
One thing that is really easy to do is to write an article or link to an article or website to promote the day to your own readers. The more we spread the word through our own websites and social media accounts, the more impact we can have.
Remember there are many other ways to spread the word other than by using technology: Why not try:
- talking to people at school pickup
- phone people to tell them
- putting up a poster
- talk to your children’s teachers
- have a safer internet day party!
5. Attend a free training session
In the UK, there are a number of free training sessions that are free to attend aimed at professionals working with young people so youth workers, teachers and other professionals in this area can attend. The sessions are run across the country at different venues and last for 2 hours. Each delegate who attends will receive exclusive access to some online resources to further assist in promoting online safety. The sessions are run by SWGfL (South West Grid for Learning) and a list of free events can be found at: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/training-events/online-safety-live-free-e-safety-even
6. Be SMART!
When in comes to internet safety, SMART is an acronym that is used to help young people understand and remember some of the main dangers they face when using the internet. You can use this acronym to remind your own children or the issues and maybe stick a prominent sticker on their computers or gaming-devices to remind them when they are actually online.
S – SAFE – when using the internet, don’t give out your personal information unless you are certain it will be stored safely and not misused.
M – MEET – children should never meet people they have met online unless they have a carer/parent’s permission and they can be there too. This should, even then, be conducted after checking and validating identities and in an open, safe place. The internet can be a great place to meet new friends but it can also be a seriously risky place too.
A – ACCEPT – everyone should be very careful about who they accept as ‘friends’ or followers’ online as people are not always who they say they are and this could lead to potential risks. Posting things, even to ‘friends’ should also be done with caution as these things can then be re-shared or forwarded without the initial person’s knowledge. Accepting things from friends could also contain nasty viruses or worse!
R – RELIABLE – always approach information no the internet with a healthy degree of skepticism and questions whether the all the things you read online are reliable – remember, anyone can add to Wikipedia and there is a lot of fake news online. What you read, could all be lies!
T – TELL – always tell a parent or a trusted adult if to receive, read or see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable or worried. It is better to be safe than sorry and adults will be thankful that you told them. This can include if you or someone you know is being bullied online.
So there you have it, some quick tips on how to get involved in Safer Internet Day and spread the word.
We’d love to hear how you celebrated the day or got involved so please do leave us a comment below.