Three of our Digital Champions – Aimee, Indira, and Lauren – are leaving their schools and the Digital Champions group. Although we are sad to see them go, we are confident that they will achieve great things! We recently caught up with them to learn about their experiences as Digital Champions.
What is your favourite thing you have done as a Digital Champion?
Aimee: I think my favourite thing to do as a Digital Champion would be between hosting the last Safer Internet Day in the BT Tower with Dominik, and speaking to MPs in Parliament with Cosima, because both allowed me to collaborate with people my age on a cause we cared deeply about whilst also educating a wider audience about issues we felt needed to be addressed.
Indira: My favourite thing is hard to identify because the opportunities I have had were all unforgettable. I loved Safer Internet Day both years and all of the meetings where I met new people and companies. I have learnt so many new things which I guess is my favourite thing.
Lauren: Aside from Safer Internet Day (which is always good fun), judging the Childnet Film Competition last year was amazing. Seeing all the creativity and talent these young people had and voicing the issues they wanted to in the video format was incredible and learning from the judges themselves was good too.
What is your most memorable moment as a Digital Champion?
Aimee: It would definitely be my first kick-off day as a Digital Champion because it was the first time I’d seen Facebook’s beautiful offices and also was the first time I met the team I would work with for the next 5 years! It was such a fun day full of amazing memories and the start of many long-lasting friendships.
Indira: My most memorable moment was Safer Internet Day! I was able to attend twice and was both part of a panel and then hosted the panels! It was amazing and the views from the top of the BT Tower in London were breathtaking and certainly nothing short of memorable!
Lauren: Safer Internet Day is always extremely memorable. I loved this year especially because I had multiple different opportunities to spread the messages I want to through doing media work. The day itself was memorable because I met up with some of the other Digital Champions in person (after seeing them online for such a long time) and other members of Childnet’s Youth Advisory Board. It was really inspiring to see so many youth voices being listened to.
What are you going on to do next?
Aimee: I’m going to study Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at Royal Holloway! I’m also going to continue my work in the online safety space, trying to come up with more solutions to issues brought up by young people every day!
Lauren: I am going on to sixth form to study maths, physics, and computer science as I have always loved those subjects. I am looking forward to opening more opportunities to use the skills and knowledge I have learned as a Digital Champion in the future.
What is your top piece of advice for someone thinking of applying to be a Digital Champion?
Aimee: Jump into the deep end and apply! As daunting as it may be at first, it will lead to so many amazing opportunities and priceless memories that you will never forget. It also gives you the platform to advocate for something you really care about.
Indira: My advice would be go for it! The platform gives young people a voice they otherwise would not have and it’s great fun!
Lauren: My top piece of advice as you become a Digital Champion would be to take every opportunity you get. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone quite a few times as a Digital Champion and have gained so much confidence and public speaking skills as a result. And to add to that, the team behind the Digital Champions and the other Digital Champions themselves are always really supportive so they always help out. As for applying to be a Digital Champion, I’d recommend you to consider a couple of things that you really care about and want to change, then speak about those because it really shows your passion for the role and what you will do with it.
We are thrilled to announce the exciting news that the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme has been shortlisted for the Teach Primary Awards.
This remarkable achievement is proof of the hard work and dedication of our team, as well as the teachers and young people we work with.
At Childnet, we are proud to have developed a programme that has been recognised for its innovation and impact in promoting digital citizenship and online safety among young people.
What is the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme?
The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is an innovative educational programme designed to help young people become more confident and responsible digital citizens. The programme provides training and support to young people, empowering them to become leaders in their schools and communities.
Through the programme, young people learn about various important digital issues, including online safety, cyberbullying, digital footprints, and social media. They also develop essential skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and leadership. To find out more about the Digital Leaders Programme, click here.
What are the TeachCo Awards?
The TeachCo Awards are a highly respected achievement that celebrates excellence in educational resources.
Joe Carter, the group editor at The TeachCo, says:
“We run a prestigious programme of awards across the education sector, celebrating the very best resources available to schools and nurseries. Clear criteria and expert judging panels ensure that every winner is truly worthy, which in turn means the results are eagerly anticipated by our audience. All finalists become part of a rolling promotion plan that puts them in front of thousands of teachers via e-marketing, online news stories, and extensive magazine coverage.”
We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to make a positive difference in the lives of young people and to raise awareness about the importance of online safety knowledge and peer-to-peer leadership.
Why is this Significant
The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme being shortlisted for the TeachCo Awards is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it recognises the vital work that the programme is doing to help young people become responsible digital citizens. The programme is helping to address a critical need in today’s society, as more and more young people spend time online.
Secondly, the shortlisting is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Childnet team, who have worked tirelessly to develop and implement the programme and its interactive platform. The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme has already positively impacted many young people’s lives, and this recognition is a well-deserved accolade.
We are optimistic regarding the outcome of the awards, and to have made it onto the shortlist. The upcoming awards give us the opportunity to celebrate the tremendous efforts of our dedicated team and of all Digital Leaders too.
We remain committed to enhancing our platform’s features and services so that we can continue providing the highest quality of education to students. Furthermore, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all our partners, schools, and educators for their invaluable feedback and for entrusting us with their students’ education. Our success would not have been possible without their support.
Just before the Summer break, on July 13th we hosted our first Digital Champions Webinar and it was a great success! Quite a few Digital Leaders had expressed interest in learning more about who the Digital Champions are and what they do in this role. We truly value your feedback and always try to take it on board as much as we can, so we decided to plan an interactive Q&A session where everyone could have the chance to hear from them directly. Over 70 questions were submitted by Digital Leaders via our survey. We didn’t get to answer all of the questions during the session so we will try to get more answered in a blog in future!
Thanks to all the Digital Leaders who submitted questions in advance of the session. Some examples of the fantastic questions we received included:
“How did you become a Digital Champion? I would like to know because hopefully one day I can be a Digital Champion!” Mariyam, Southrise Primary School
“What are your three top tips to help children in their school?” The Digital Leaders from Notting Hill and Ealing Junior School
“What’s your favourite thing about technology and why?” Ida, Woodlands School
If you aren’t familiar with our Digital Champions already, they are a small group of Digital Leaders who went through an application process in order to join our youth representative board. They help the Childnet Digital Leaders team ensure that the programme is youth led. They represent a youth voice which is essential to the programme’s success and support us with module development, content creation, events and consultation, as well as representing the programme in the wider online safety community.
During this session, they did a terrific job of explaining more about their role, online safety and projects they have been involved in. If you’re looking for inspiration for things to do as a Digital Leader, we encourage you to watch the video linked below.
Some great quotes from the Digital Champions during this session:
Lauren: “They asked how can I be a better Digital Leader? I’d say going out of your comfort zone a little bit can really help. If you’re presented with an opportunity, maybe to do an assembly in school, or to take part in an activity, that’s a really good idea of just stepping out of your comfort zone and becoming a little bit more confident with what you’re doing.”
Aimee: “In my school I always tell people to be as comfortable as they can be and express themselves in how they want to be in the online world and do what benefits them and don’t feel pressured to do anything that doesn’t benefit them or would harm them in the long run. ”
Indira: “It can be hard, especially online, to post things without feeling like it might upset somebody, because just like when we send a text, it doesn’t always come across how we would say in real life. So, I understand why the nerves would be there, but I think it’s important to just remember that we’re all still humans who make mistakes. And so if we’re aware of what we’re posting online, and we’re just conscious of how other people might perceive it, and then if we do make a mistake, because you know, mistakes are part of life, we own up to them, I think then the nerves can go away a bit, because if we just remember there are real people on the other side, there is more of an awareness, and we’re less likely to hurt somebody else’s feelings, at least on purpose.”
The Childnet Digital Leaders team were so pleased with the level of participation from the Digital Leaders who submitted questions and the Digital Champions insightful responses and want to thank you all for your work!
If you’re feeling inspired after watching this video and are interested in applying to become a Digital Champion, the applications will open in mid-September. Watch this space for more updates!
We are delighted to present a guest blog from Bromley High School Junior. Here they detail the work they have done in educating their peers about online safety.
Online Safety Assembly by Izzy and Zinnia Year 5
As Digital Leaders we wanted to create an assembly for the school about online safety. Even though online safety is something that most people are aware of, it is always good to have a reminder because it is very easy to forget and even little things can trick you.
We held this assembly to raise awareness about online safety in order to remind people how important it is. To create this assembly we had to work as a team and this collaboration has also produced a strong bond between the Digital Leaders who participated.
We all had the courage to stand up and present the ideas to our school without any adults being involved. Every break and lunchtime we could all meet, we would come together and keep practicing. Through this process, we learnt how to speak confidently. Usually for school assemblies there would be two Year 6’s helping out with the slideshows on the computer. In this case, it was the Year 5 Digital Leaders who took charge.
Our teachers are really proud of us, and we can say the same thing about ourselves. We are definitely going to create another presentation one day and raise even more awareness in our school. We want to teach every single person how to be safe online.
It has been an amazing journey from day one of becoming a Digital Leader and now we have grown confident enough to present an assembly to raise awareness of online safety.
Well done and thank you Bromley High School Junior for sharing your work with us! We love hearing from our Digital Leader community all over the world. Email [email protected] if you would like to tell us about what you have been up to.
This year, Safer Internet Day took place on 7th of February. Childnet, who are a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, organised this day in the UK. Well done to all the Digital Leaders who completed the Safer Internet Day module on the platform and thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas about how to make the internet a safer and better place for everyone.
We asked Secondary Digital Leaders what the most important online issue for young people online is with some of the feedback below:
Below is a graph based on feedback from the Primary School Digital Leaders on what the most important issue is for young people:
Here are some thoughts Secondary Digital Leaders had about chatrooms and the risks they present:
It’s important that children and young people as well as adults share any concerns they might have about being online with others, so together we can resolve these situations. The aim of the Digital Leaders Programme is to help children and young people know how to respond to different situations when arise.
The theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day 2023 was ‘Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online’. We hope everyone took this as a chance to talk to friends, classmates and family members about what it means to be online and how to be safe.
Here are some examples Secondary and Primary school Leaders gave of how talking about our online lives is beneficial:
It was great to hear how Digital Leaders planned to celebrate Safer Internet Day this year. A lot of leaders planned assemblies and talks about online safety.
Below are some examples of the creative things that were organised for the day from Secondary & Primary:
We love to hear about the ways young people enjoy life online: a lot enjoy gaming with friends, being creative, dancing and making art. It’s clear that being online can be a positive and enjoyable experience. However, sometimes things happen that can upset us or make us feel uncomfortable. If this happens, it’s important that we talk to others about what we’re experiencing. A problem shared is a problem halved!
We currently have eight Digital Champions who underwent an application process to be selected as our youth representative board. The Digital Champions help 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 and support us with module development, content creation, events and consultation, as well as representing the programme in the wider online safety community.
The role of the UN and the mandate in addressing violence online
The role of governments in addressing violence online
The role of companies in addressing violence online
The role of children in addressing violence online
The role of the broader communities in addressing violence online.
Each section consisted of questions sent in from youth around the world and also questions from youth in the audience, with Najat answering them. I personally moderated the section about the role of the UN and the mandate in addressing violence online, where I was able to ask my own personal questions about the UN’s future involvement in helping the campaign.
Making international change
I learnt so much on this call, from both Najat and the other youth present. It was very interesting to hear the opinions of people from around the world. One main problem that stayed with me after the call is the problems faced in countries who don’t put a large focus on digital safety. Najat brought up how as representatives, we should try to make our campaigns accessible to countries and the youth of countries who don’t naturally have a large campaign for online safety. This was really compelling for me as I had never thought about this before but it is such an important factor in trying to campaign for change. It is definitely something I will keep in mind going forward.
Thinking about the future
In the future, Najat emphasized that everything that had been discussed will be taken to higher decision makers, and Industry, so that our voices will be heard and our requests will be acted on which is really motivating for us as we all want to see a positive change. I really enjoyed my experience. It was nice to be a part of such a wide discussion and be able to discuss such large issues with people who can help us make a significant change. It was also great to be able to hear the opinions and questions from other youths and youth representatives from around the world.
Digital Champion Cosima delves into more detail about the call…
Who else was on the call?
Other than Najat, there were roughly 50 young people on the call from members of Safer Internet Centres around Europe, and some familiar faces from other youth advisory boards and organisations who operate around the continent.
What was discussed?
The dialogue was broken down into 5 sections: an introduction to the project given by Dr M’jid and her team, a discussion on the prevention of Violence Against Children in which pre-submitted questions submitted by myself and the other members were posed to Najat by my fellow DC Aimee who was one of the youth moderators; a discussion on the role of tech companies in the protection of young people against VAC (violence against children) online in the same format; a discussion on the role of governments and other governing bodies such as the UN in stopping VAC in the digital world; and another discussion on the role of children in solving the issue of VAC in which myself and my fellow young people on the call were asked by Najat to outline what we had done and where we felt there was further to go.
Did you learn anything new?
I learned so much from participating in this event, from the way the UN approaches issues with conflicting legislation between borders such as internet regulation, to the shared and differing experiences and perspectives of my fellow youth online safety advocates around the world on the online issues that affect us all.
What was so unique about this event was that because almost every participant was from a different nation, including the SRSG herself, everyone had different examples of issues that had occurred and resolutions they had come across specific to the characteristics of their country, and yet the consensus was still very much the same which only further reflected the fact that VAC in the digital world and in general, is an issue that is important to all of us no matter our circumstances and that if we listen to each other that message is only amplified which was really incredible.
Did you share anything?
Amazingly, I managed to share in all of the different discussions throughout the event. Prior to the meeting I had submitted a question on the dangers the SRSG anticipated with the launch of the Metaverse on children and how she felt they could be prevented. On the topic of the role of tech companies I asked where Najat felt the responsibility lied in terms of regulating the impacts of misinformation on social media, and if she thought recent developments such as the increased support systems and restrictions were enough.
Regarding the role of governing bodies such as the UN and individual governments, I asked Dr M’jid, in light of the anticipated passing of the online safety bill, how the UN navigates the differing legislation between countries when trying to combat two issues such as VAC and where she felt said processes could improve. Lastly, when asked what I had personally been doing to combat VAC in the online world, I responded on the work of Safer Internet Day this year and it’s impacts so far, as well as the work myself and my fellow Digital Champions had done on consulting with different organisations to improve social media and the management of its impacts on young people.
What are the next steps?
On the 16th of March, the SRSG took to the 52nd Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva to present her report on Violence Against Children in the Digital Environment that our dialogue contributed to from, and presented the child friendly version of the report to the online world, from which responses will be gathered in the coming weeks.
How did you find the experience?
I found the experience incredibly insightful and so, so, incredibly cool. As someone who does Model UN, and a youth advocate myself, which I later discovered Najat was too as a teenager(!), I had a major lightbulb moment, as I realised that that could maybe be me some day, working in a place like the UN to get heard and solve an issue that affects literally billions of children all over the world. It was also so amazing to see so many familiar faces from previous work that we’ve done such as the Microsoft event last year, and so many new faces from countries that I had never interacted with before such as Serbia and Moldova and to get to listen to everyone’s different projects and thoughts.
It sounds so cliché, but as someone who works so closely with the issue both in and out of school, it was so heart-warming almost to hear that other people around the world wanted to fix it too, and in so many different ways – I was literally scribbling down ideas on a napkin as we went through as I ended up taking the call from a Pret in London because it was the only (relatively) quiet space in London on a Saturday afternoon!
The Digital Leaders at Christ Church Primary School in Skipton were absolute superstars on Safer Internet Day. Using the resources from the UK Safer Internet Centre, they planned and delivered a number of enjoyable and educational workshops to other young people at the school and parents too.
On Safer Internet Day itself, they led assemblies for key stage one and key stage two on this year’s theme of ’Want to talk about it?: Making space for conversations about life online’ before leading the workshops for key stage two students. They ran activities such as the Snowball Fight, The Alphanet and Where on the Line?. The Digital Leaders made sure that everyone was involved and having fun as they learned about staying safe online.
The following day, they hosted an e-safety event for parents where the Digital Leaders, once again, led workshops and ran an information station where parents could find out about various resources which can help keep children and young people safe when they’re using the internet.
As a school, we are really proud of what the Digital Leaders achieved this Safer Internet Day. They showed an excellent understanding of internet safety and were able to share this with their peers in a fun and engaging way. They repeated this with the parents the following day and we heard several comments praising their knowledge and ability to communicate it clearly – not an easy feat considering the complexity of the subject.
It’s safe to say that Safer Internet Day 2023 was our best yet and the Digital Leaders are looking forward to continuing their work keeping our school community safe online.
During this Industry Q&A, Tom Gault from Instagram answers some questions from our Digital Leaders. Tom leads the public policy team who make sure that Instagram users have a safe and secure experience. Here, he talks about safety, security and the tools at your disposal ensure you are having a safe and enjoyable experience on the app. Thanks to all the Digital Leaders for your questions which Tom answers in the video below:
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!
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.