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Maariyah and Israa’s blog about the Safer Internet Day 2019 London event and their opportunity to interview the Chief Medical Officer

Published: 5th March 2019

Hey, its Maariyah and Israa!

On the 5th February we attended the annual Safer Internet Day celebrations, where we shared our opinions on consent. Consent, we have learnt, is something that is really important online, but is often forgotten about by both the young and older generations. There are four types of consent; active, passive, assumed or not given, and all are really important.

All of the many schools that attended had a table at which they ran a workshop based on the theme consent. It was so fun for our school to meet other Digital Leaders who we shared interests with. Before the day started, we had an opportunity to meet the other Digital Leaders and see what they were doing. We really did learn a lot about consent. Our table honed in on the ideas about how to deal with asking or denying consent. Using an inflatable large dice, we made volunteers roll them to generate a random number which corresponded to a box. In the numbered boxes were scenarios with a question that they had to answer; all of these were based on the theme. This made the volunteers think about when they should ask for consent as well as how and to whom you may decline consent from. We received many different viewpoints like how if your friends are involved it is often much harder to deny consent, whereas if it was someone you did not know as well, or had a professional relationship with, you would say, ”No” more comfortably.

One thing that was really funny was how some of the adults knew nothing about the types of consent. It was truly an honour to teach them some of them something new.

All of the workshop ideas were planned and executed by our very own amazing Digital Leaders. At Sarah Bonnell School, our Digital Leaders play an important role in ensuring that all students understand how to stay safe online. Although we couldn’t bring all our lovely Digital Leader’s, we all played a part in planning and producing content for our activity at the Safer Internet Day celebrations.

At the event, which was run by the UK Safer Internet Centre, we met many people who, like us, were keen to help shape the internet and help internet users know that consent is important online. People like Will Gardner (the Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre), Margot James (Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and entrepreneur) and Marc Allera (CEO of BT Consumer Brands), who introduced the day to us before our very own Israa took over. After a round of activities run by the young people, Kate Russell, a BBC journalist, ran a discussion with a youth panel on what consent means and why it is so important. We ended the day with final goodbyes from both Israa and Will Gardner.

After such success at SID 2019, we were both invited to interview the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, on a report she was to release on the impact that screen-based activities had on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We were invited to her offices in central London to ask about her views on social media and more on her report. She spoke passionately about how it is important for open discussion to take place within families about social media and cyberbullying, as well as reducing screen time by taking regular breaks every two hours. Some other advice she gave was to not use technological devices at the dinner table – talking as a family would be a more productive use of time. Also, keeping devices outside of the bedroom at night ensures a good night sleep.

In the future, we hope to attend more of these Safer Internet Day celebrations, help educate people and make the world a better place.

It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and we do hope to come back next year and reach even more people and spread the word of internet safety; because, remember, a safer internet starts with you.