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Black History Month: Young people’s experiences online

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Celebrated in October in the UK, Black History Month recognises the history and achievements of Black people worldwide.

It is a chance to reflect on and promote the contributions that Black people have made to our society, whilst projecting Black people’s voices and perceptions of the world today.

We spoke with Childnet Digital Leaders about the online experience for young people of colour, sources of inspiration, and the importance of “allyship”.

How is the online experience different for young people of colour?

The online experience for young people of colour depends on the platform.

If it is one in which an individual’s identity is undisclosed then there is not much difference, since everyone is equal – we have voices that are not altered due to our identity.

However, if background is disclosed then the online experience for young people can be different. This is because it can be difficult to find role models to relate to in areas like appearance and culture.

Even so, the online world is becoming a more diverse place with a wider variety of representation and so as a young person of colour it is a much more comfortable and inclusive place.

Exposure to racism

The ability to share experiences has led to people of colour around the world being able to appreciate and take part in elements of their culture which they did not have much knowledge on before.

For example, we see a massive appreciation for music types such as Afro beats recently as it has been at the forefront of most trends on TikTok, allowing it to reach a much wider audience.

Despite the positives of this, there is the issue of young people being exposed to blatant racism as the online world [can be an unfiltered] place.

People feel comfortable online expressing their harmful views as they believe everything is anonymous, not realising that this hurts the young users who come across these types of comments.

For example, after England’s defeat in the world cup, most social media sites were flooded with harmful views and slurs. Not only was this extremely cruel to the poor players who had to endure this (the youngest being 19), but it was extremely painful for young people of colour online who had to witness the abuse thrown at people similar to them over a small mistake.

What is something that inspires you online?

Currently, the exposure to more influencers from ethnic minorities is inspiring. Growing up it was virtually impossible to find people of colour with big platforms.

As a young brown person, this prevented me and many other young people of colour from even aspiring to enter the entertainment industry, from social media to Hollywood. Therefore, it has been exciting to see media and the digital world become diverse and representative of the many heritages.

On this point, I also believe that the online world has enhanced the voices of people of colour and has provided a platform on which everyone can voice cultures and beliefs, allowing people in all corners of the world to become more educated and aware.

As a result, although progress continues to be made, online platforms have made it possible for people of colour to be heard and acknowledged on the widest possible scale so far.

Breaking down biases

Although we do face many issues online, something that inspires me to actively keep trying to make the online world a better place is the appreciation and blend of cultures. Seeing people merge their cultures together and enjoy learning about each other is something that I love to see.

It shows a level of maturity as people are venturing outside their comfort zone to learn new things and become welcoming to different practices.

I feel like if we manage to make the online world a less hostile place, we will see more people willingly trying to learn about different cultures and break down their biases.

How can others be an ally online?

The responsibility is on the people to make the online world a more enjoyable place for everyone. How do we achieve that?

Well, it’s pretty simple: Be open to learning new things and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If we start asking more questions, we can start to move away from stereotypical views which are usually very harmful. Many people will be open to answering your questions and the internet is a wonderful place to research!

Also, I think everyone could benefit from being less defensive if someone corrects them on their behaviour. Don’t see it as an attack, they are just trying to help you and everyone else by eliminating harmful statements and viewpoints.

I do hope to see a positive change in the treatment of people in the online world as it would create a much friendlier environment.

Online world is the key…

Others can be allies online by encouraging respect and inclusivity online. It is crucial that we embrace the uniqueness of people, no matter their beliefs or identity, so that we can live in a kind and positive world – online and in person – where humanity comes before anything else.

Our use of the online world might just be the key to this!

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Applications to become a Digital Champion for 2022-23 are now open!

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Do you want to make real change? Do you want to have a chance to talk to industry about what young people want? Do you want an opportunity to shape the future of the Digital Leaders Programme? If this sounds like you then apply to be a Digital Champion today! You can find out more about the role and the application process in our information pack.

The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is proud to be a youth-led and youth focused programme. However, we are continually striving to make it even better – this is where our Digital Champions come in!

Our Digital Champions represent the entire Digital Leader community from across the UK. They meet and collaborate with other Digital Leaders outside of their school and they are Childnet’s ‘go-to’ group for new and exciting developments on the platform and the programme. If you have great ideas about developing new modules and activities on the platform and would like first-hand access to fun and engaging opportunities, then being a Digital Champion is the role for you!

In addition to all of these awesome perks, Digital Champions may have the opportunity to be involved in regional and national events as well as speak with and give advice to big tech companies and schools on how to keep other young people safe online. Digital Champions also receive top class support from the Childnet Digital Leaders team and other Digital Champions too throughout.

You can find out more about our current Digital Champions here and their involvement in Safer Internet Day 2022 here.

All we ask from you is that you commit for 1 year from December 2022 – November 2023. During this year, we would require a minimum commitment of one video call per month as well as additional participation work – this shouldn’t take any more than 6 hours per month. For more information on this, please check out the information pack.

If you answered yes to all of the questions at the start, and believe you have what it takes to become a Digital Champion, then please fill out the consent forms included in the information pack, fill out the online form at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/X8T7TRQ, and return all your signed consent forms to [email protected] by Friday 11th November.

We are super excited to hear from you and receive your applications. Good luck!

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We want to hear from you!

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£50 voucher Childnet Digital Leaders

Do you want to win a £50 voucher for your school?

We’re offering teachers and pupils involved with the Digital Leaders Programme a chance to win.

Our evaluation survey for 2022 is now open and we want to hear your thoughts on how we can make the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme the very best it can be.

For every completed survey, we enter the school into a prize draw – so for the best chance of winning, ensure all your Digital Leaders and teachers involved in the programme complete their survey!

Teacher survey

Secondary Digital Leader

Primary Digital Leader

Childnet Digital Leaders is about championing youth voice and the opinions of teachers and education professionals.

Providing us with your honest feedback will ensure that the programme is delivering its full potential and we continue to engage Digital Leaders for the future.

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King’s Ely Junior Digital Leaders serve up fantastic Digital Picnic event

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Thank you to everyone who was involved with and who supported the ‘Digital Picnic’ at King’s Ely Junior school before the end of term!

Dan Everest, who is Head of Key Stage 2 and Computing and Digital Innovation at King’s Ely, organises the family-orientated event each year with enthusiastic support from the school’s Year 7 and 8 Childnet Digital Leaders.

King’s Ely have been unable to hold a ‘Digital Picnic’ for the last two years due to the pandemic, so it was fantastic to see this year’s event so well attended by Year 3-8 pupils, along with their families and carers.

The ‘Digital Picnic’ is organised for several reasons:

▪️ To celebrate the students’ digital safety learning that occurs in school with parents, families and carers.

▪️ To enable pupils, parents, families and carers and staff to share digital tips and advice with everyone in attendance.

▪️ To promote open and family-orientated discussions about digital safety.

▪️ To provide parents, families and carers with advice about apps and games, all delivered by the Digital Leaders.

King's Ely Junior school's Childnet Digital Leaders

King’s Ely have supported the Childnet Digital Leaders initiative for many years.

The school’s Digital Leaders ran information stalls at the event, where they had hand-out documents and PowerPoint presentations for families about their app or game. The students were ready to answer any questions or concerns that parents or indeed pupils had.

Mr Everest said: “Our Digital Picnic is an important event on the school calendar. There were a record number of parents and students in attendance this year and the feedback has been so positive.

“The idea of working together and understanding the generational differences between digital use is really powerful and the real experts in the room were the Digital Leaders. What a fantastic effort everyone!”

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Latest Q&A catch-up with the Childnet Digital Champions

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As ambassadors for the Childnet Digital Leaders programme, the Digital Champions form our youth representative board.

Helping the Childnet Digital Leaders team to ensure that the programme is youth led, they represent a youth voice which is essential to the programme’s success.

They also support with module development, content creation, events and consultation, as well as representing the programme in the wider online safety community.

This month, we grill Digital Champions Lucy, Cosima, Aimee, Christtian and Alisa on Safer Internet Day and the latest online safety issues…

What activities have you taken part in as a Childnet Digital Champion?

Lucy: I have been lucky enough to be involved in many activities. I have taken part in two Safer Internet Days now, where for one I was part of a youth panel in a live event for UK Safer Internet Centre. I have also done a few calls with MPs to talk about the importance of online safety and what can be done about it, which have been really interesting! As Digital Champions, we also do regular focus groups with various companies such as Facebook which are always very informative and eye-opening!

How has the Digital Leaders programme benefited your school?

Aimee: The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme has been beneficial to my school as it has given students the opportunity to take responsibility and learn about digital safety so that they are able to teach their friends, parents and teachers about a subject they are passionate on. It has even benefited those not directly in the programme because students in the school feel comfortable talking to Digital Leaders about issues or concerns they have with the online world.

Childnet Digital Champion Aimee
Childnet Digital Champion Aimee

Did you enjoy being part of Safer Internet Day 2022?

Cosima: Yes, very much so! It is great to be involved every year, but this year especially was really brilliant as the topic was so relevant to young people. I think by having a specific focus on gaming and relationships online it not only made everything we were talking about extremely relevant to the current issues, but also made it super fun to talk about. Being able to share experiences and advice with those who are not already so aware is such a rewarding experience as you know that it is going to positively benefit so many young people – especially with the interview this year reaching almost 2.5 million people! It is also as always lovely to meet and address so many new people and old friends and get to hear their views and opinions too. The biggest highlight for me was definitely the Safer Internet Day MP call as we really got to get into what issues were going on, why they were happening, and most importantly what could be done to change them!

Safer Internet Day reached more young people than ever – how did it feel to play your part?

Christtian: It feels great to know that I have made an impact in spreading awareness of Safer Internet Day. It is also nice to know that the people that you are telling about Safer Internet Day are, in fact, doing something about it, sharing it, spreading the word, etc. It feels brilliant knowing that more young people than ever before have been impacted by Safer Internet Day 2022 and knowing that I played a part in that as a Digital Champion.

What is the most important issue in online safety at the moment?

Alisa: I believe that online safety is such a wide topic that there’ll never be a way to choose a single problem as the most important. However, in my opinion, one problem that is caused by lack of awareness is the most important. That is sharing too much personal information online with strangers without thinking of the consequences. These actions taken by young people can lead to them getting in a variety of dangerous situations.

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The new Childnet Digital Leaders training platform is here!

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We are excited to announce that the new Childnet Digital Leaders training platform has been launched – and is ready for your school’s pupils!

Current Digital Leaders told us that they wanted a more interactive, customisable and visually appealing platform with more up-to-date features.

So, we have developed a new platform that is fun, engaging and promotes online safety learning in an enjoyable and safe way. Features such as badges, points and modules completed are more easily accessible from the home page.

It also has new features such as a Team Leaderboard where Digital Leaders can compete with their classmates, a virtual companion who guides and encourages them through the learning content, unlockable customisable backgrounds and more.

Childnet Digital Leaders new platform 2

We have updated our learning content, covering many of the issues relevant to young people. The new platform is more accessible for those with special educational needs too, with plain background options and subtitles on every video.

We have worked with our Digital Champions to ensure that we have attuned the platform to the needs of young people, and we thank them for all their hard work.

Existing Digital Leader schools

If you’re already a qualified Digital Leader – don’t worry! You’ll still be a Childnet Digital Leader even though the platform and learning content is different. In fact, existing Digital Leaders will be awarded our exclusive Digital Leaders Legacy badge!

Please see our guidance document with all the information teachers need about the new features, including how to enable your team to have access to the new platform.

Existing Digital Leader schools have until the end of this academic year to complete their training on the current platform. Schools will be automatically migrated to the new platform after 31 July 2022.

About Digital Leaders

The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is a youth leadership training programme empowering young people to educate their peers about online safety.

Groups of Digital Leaders complete training on an interactive, informative and fun gamified platform. They work through online modules, equipping them with the skills they need to go on to educate and support their peers.

Find out more about the benefits to pupils, teachers and schools here.

Click here if you would like to register your school’s interest and request a free guest login.

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Record-breaking Safer Internet Day reaches more than half of young people

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Childnet Digital Leaders and Digital Champions helped Safer Internet Day 2022 reached more than half (54%) of young people in the UK aged 8-17.

This year’s event, which took place on February 8th and focused on online games, saw more than 3,000 organisations across the UK register as supporters – helping to make it the most successful Safer Internet Day ever.

Co-ordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre, Safer Internet Day has grown to become a fixture in the calendar of schools and many other organisations, spanning the internet industry, charities, government and police services.

More than 4.7 million young people heard about Safer Internet Day 2022, whether that was through the official educational resources, films, online quizzes or virtual assemblies.

Childnet Digital Leaders and Digital Champions were at the heart of Safer Internet Day – appearing in live events at BT Tower and Westminster on the day, speaking to the media, and contributing to the research and Young People’s Charter.

More confidence online

As a result of this year’s Safer Internet Day, 80% of young people reached now feel more confident about what to do if they are worried about something online, with 84% having a better understanding of how to stay safe playing online games, and 42% talking to a friend about using the internet safely.

Additionally, Safer Internet Day is generating conversations between children and young people, and their parents, carers, and teachers. 67% of UK parents and carers of 8-17 years olds reached reported that they have spoken to their children about playing online safely, and 69% said they understand more about how to keep their child safe online.

Overall, 32% of UK parents and carers of 8-17 years olds heard about Safer Internet Day in 2022, a 6% increase when compared to 2020. Furthermore, 41% of teachers reported that the day led to disclosures about potential safeguarding issues online.

Find out more about the impact of Safer Internet Day 2022 here.

Will Gardner, OBE, a Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, commented:

“We know that the amazing work across the UK for Safer Internet Day has a measurable impact on our young people and, after reaching more than ever this year, it’s a pivotal time to reflect on how we take this support beyond the day itself.

“Internet safety is more important than ever, and last week’s Ofcom research reinforces what we know – there are challenges for young people to overcome online, but if we give them the tools it can have a positive impact on their lives.

“It’s crucial that we continue pushing the internet industry to play its part, but also to reach out and engage others to help support and empower our nation’s young people.

“We’re calling on the government, policymakers, and the industry to take the conversation beyond just a day and come together for a better internet.”

 

Media requests: For more information and to arrange interviews, please get in touch with the Safer Internet Day team at [email protected]

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Childnet Digital Leader schools can join the Film Competition 2022 fun!

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The 13th Childnet Film Competition has been officially launched – and is once again open to Digital Leader schools across the UK.

Following the success of this year’s Safer Internet Day on February 8th, Childnet are asking young people to create a short film or storyboard exploring the theme of All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online.

Online games have become an increasingly popular way for young people to connect with their real-life friends virtually, following a period of multiple lockdowns and school closures. 85% of young people say they are using online games and apps to spend more time with their friends than ever before.

Harnessing the positive power of connection through online games, a further 74% of young people say it can teach them important skills such as concentration and teamwork.

However, Film Competition participants are invited to draw upon any part of this year’s theme. Whilst they could focus on ‘games’, they can also look at ‘respect and relationships’ online or find a way to incorporate both!

Key points

At a time when young people are using the internet more than ever, we want them to take the lead and create short films exploring key themes such as:

  • How can they play their part in making online gaming a safe and enjoyable experience?
  • How can they look out for others when playing games online?
  • What life skills do they learn from playing online games?
  • What does it mean to foster ‘respect and relationships’ online?

Provided their film focuses on positivity online and will help fellow young people stay safe on the internet, participants have full creative license!

Categories

Once again, there is a primary category for 7–11 year olds, a secondary category for 11-18 year olds, and a storyboard category for anyone with an artistic flair who prefers to draw their film idea. This time, we also have a solo category for any 16-18 year olds wishing to partake as an individual.

Schools and youth groups have until Wednesday 8th June to submit all film or storyboard entries.

Judges

Our panel of judges will make the tough decisions of who wins the prizes in the Childnet Film Competition 2022. The panel are experts from a range of exciting organisations in the film and TV industry – look out for more about them in the coming weeks.

Prizes

By entering the Childnet Film Competition, schools and youth groups could win a great filmmaking equipment prize, including a DSLR camera. For our storyboard category, the winner of each age category will win a professional graphics pen and storyboard sketch book to help them capture every story idea.

Get involved!

Everything you need to know about taking part, together with categories and entry packs, can be found here.

Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

The Childnet Film Competition is delivered as part of Childnet’s work in the UK Safer Internet Centre, which is now co-funded by Nominetwith additional support from the Motion Picture Association.

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Childnet Digital Leader congratulated by Caroline Lucas MP

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Childnet Digital Leaders made a huge impression on Safer Internet Day 2022 – even receiving congratulatory letters from MPs!

Once again, young people were at the heart of the day, which is celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology.

Digital Leaders and Digital Champions helped to ensure that the voice of young people was championed in a range of events across the UK, by:

  • Joining a youth panel for the Safer Internet Day 2022 livestream event at BT Tower
  • Taking part in media interviews which were broadcast across 70 radio stations, reaching a potential audience of 2.4 million people
  • Contributing to the Safer Internet Day 2022 Research and Young People’s Charter

Amongst the Childnet Digital Leaders involved was Alisa, who joined MPs for a Q&A event to share her experiences of being online and her recommendations for how this space can be improved for young people.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, was particularly impressed, and took the time to send Alisa a letter congratulating her on being involved in the day:

Dear Alisa,

I am writing to you as your MP to offer my warmest congratulations on your participation as a Digital Leader at the Safer Internet Day Q&A event earlier this month.

I’m very sorry I couldn’t join you, but I wanted to let you know that I’m incredibly proud of young people in Brighton – such as yourself – for sharing their experiences with technology and the online world.

Conversations around online safety are particularly crucial for children and young people who have had to spend much of their time online over the past two years due to the pandemic – and thank you for stepping up and showing such leadership.

The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is an excellent opportunity to empower young people and their peers to talk about online safety in schools, and for MPs to hear from about real life experiences and be better informed to make important policy decisions that will affect future generations.

Thank you again for your hard work in this area, and I wish you all the best for the remainder of your training programme and beyond.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline

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Remember to register as a Safer Internet Day 2022 supporter!

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Has your Childnet Digital Leader school registered as an official supporter of Safer Internet Day yet?

We are overjoyed at the stream of support for Safer Internet Day 2022, which takes place on February 8th, and are delighted to announce that the supporters list has already reached over 1,600!

The supporters list showcases the activities taking place across the UK on Safer Internet Day to promote the safe and positive use of technology.

With less than two weeks to go, we highly encourage your school to sign up as a supporter if you haven’t already.

Once registered, you will receive a certificate to show your support for the day and, following review, your logo, school name and supportive statement will appear on the UK Safer Internet Centre website.

With your help, Safer Internet Day can reach more young people, educators, parents and carers than ever before.

Unsure of how to celebrate Safer Internet Day? Take a look at the full supporters list for inspiration.

#PlayYourPart this Safer Internet Day and register as a supporter here!

Safer Internet Day 2022 supporters blog

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