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Spreading online safety message was a ‘wonderful’ experience

Published: 16th June 2021

In the next of our blogs looking at how young people shaped Safer Internet Day 2021, we talk to Digital Champion Cosima about her involvement.

More than half of UK children aged 8-17 years heard about the Day, while 38% of UK parents and carers were also aware of this year’s event.

Cosima helped to increase awareness by taking part in a range of media interviews, ensuring young people’s voices were at the heart of Safer Internet Day 2021…

Hi Cosima – did you enjoy being part of Safer Internet Day?
It was genuinely one of my favourite things I’ve done as a Digital Champion. I enjoyed everything that I got to do, from panel-prep meetings to the interviews to the live event. But my favourite experience this year was actually the last. The BBC Coventry interview was just the best thing to end it on. The radio host, Trish Adudu was so great! And the fact that it was live almost made it less daunting as once something was said I couldn’t go back and change it!

Why is Safer Internet Day important?

The event brings awareness and much needed attention to the issues young people are facing in the online world. But rather than focusing solely on the negative aspects or dangers of the internet, it draws the eye towards the ways both young people themselves and those in the industry can make social media and the internet a better environment for us all. Safer Internet Day brings a voice to young people, allowing them to be heard by the general public and those involved in the media about their wants and needs. I felt so lucky to have been one of those voices this year. Especially during a time where there is such a big increase in online usage and therefore misinformation, etc.

How did it feel to play a part in promoting Safer Internet Day?
It felt rather wonderful to be involved in spreading awareness about such an important event that benefits so many young people. Now more than ever, internet safety is such a relevant topic because everyone has had to be at home for so long and depend on the online world for their social interaction, school, work, etc. Because of this, we have all been online so much more, and therefore we’re all being exposed to far more misinformation and fake news than ever before. Especially with Covid, we’re constantly seeing articles and developments being published throughout the media and then, as they are processed through social media, it’s almost like a game of the whispering game in that as each person retells the information it gets altered and slightly more inaccurate. So, this year, being able to promote that message of being aware of misinformation online and getting to talk about how to approach this kind of thing – whether you’re a child experiencing it or an adult trying to prepare young people for facing it – was a really great feeling.

How has the Digital Leaders programme helped promote online safety at your school?
The Digital Leaders programme enabled us as a school to become much more aware and safe on the internet. Our Digital Leaders have run countless assemblies, lessons and events based around being safe and secure in the online world. We’ve covered all kinds of topics across all the year groups, from basic eSafety, to being aware of our digital footprints to identifying and properly approaching misinformation online as well as so much more. I’d say that traditionally as a subject, online safety can be overlooked or not stressed enough to young people in schools. That’s not to say that they don’t try or that they are purposefully ignoring it, but our generation has grown up with the internet and technology and so most of the time it’s the students who know or think they know more. When it’s young people advising young people – it tends to resonate a lot better. In light of that, our Digital Leaders ran workshops during computer science lessons, using resources from Childnet as well as real life examples in an attempt to better educate everyone. I’d say that is where the programme has had the biggest impact in my school – from the training we had done, combined with our own personal experience, we really got through to everyone.

Helpful links:
Empower your pupils to become online safety peer leaders this summer term
Find out how our Digital Champion Lucy was involved in Safer Internet Day 2021