The Digital Champions are the youth ambassadors of the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme. Childnet work closely with them to ensure that the programme is youth-led, they have opportunities to represent the Digital Leader community in many ways, including at events and in consultations. You can find out more about the Digital Champions here.
In this blog we ask some of the Digital Champions about their experience in the role this year, including highlights and how they have found taking part in the group throughout the COVID-19 school closures. Thank you to Cosima, Jess and Aimee for their insightful and thoughtful responses, which you can read below.
What has been your highlight of your Digital Champion role this year?
Cosima: For me my biggest highlight was either presenting our charter at Westminster to the MPs or talking to Baroness Nicky Morgan at the BT centre event on Safer Internet Day!
It was such a unique experience that not many people my age would get to do!
At first talking to the MPs was a little daunting but as the day progressed I became a lot more fluent in what I was saying, I guess practice makes perfect! In addition, once Aimee went on to go and do her speech, and I had to do everything solo, I felt kind of proud of myself for being able to do that!
As it I was talking about something I was passionate about when it came to doing our stand at the event, I found it quite rewarding in a way to get the message across to so many different representatives of different companies. Oh and a bonus was that I was on the news hehe!
How have you found your Digital Champion role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Jess: During the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have had to adapt in many ways, including the way we work and communicate. Although we haven’t been able to meet up in person a huge amount this year, by communicating online, the Digital Champions team has been able to keep in touch and continue to make a change. Personally, I feel as though being able to communicate more online has brought me closer to the team and made me feel like I am making a bigger impact with what I do. With more people using the online world as a way to chat with friends and work from home, we have been working hard to support our peers and other young people who are spending more time online and make sure they are safe and well. I feel like my role during this time has made me a more well-rounded person, and has helped me develop my communication and teamwork skills, despite only communicating through a screen. The rest of the team have done an awesome job of keeping us all informed and updated throughout this time, and I have felt more confident in my role than ever before. Although this has been an uncertain time for us all, I have felt more connected with not only my friends, but the rest of the Digital Champions and Childnet team and through more online communication, I have felt a bigger part of the team and a more confident person.
What would you say to someone thinking about applying to be a Digital Champion next year?
Aimee: If I could say one thing to someone who is thinking of applying to be a digital champion, I would say don’t allow any feelings of doubt, worry or anything else put you off it because it has been my best experience! It feels like a close family and you get to take part in a range of new and enjoyable opportunities that teach you so many skills as well as putting you in really influential positions with the ability to help and teach many people from all over. I’ve loved it so much and I would recommend it to everyone so, to everyone reading this, definitely try it!! 🙂
Thank you to our Digital Champions for sharing their thoughts on how they have found their role over the year. If you are interested in becoming a Digital Champion next year, then keep your eyes peeled for the next round of applications due to open in September.
As part of the Digital Leaders Programme, young people receive online safety training via gamified online training platforms. We have two standalone platforms; one for primary pupils and one for secondary pupils. These platforms differ both in learning content and some functionality. The platforms also provide access to the Digital Leader Community (on the primary platform, teachers have the option whether to activate this feature or not) which allows young people to discuss important online safety topics and collaborate with peers.
Secondary Digital Leaders
The secondary platform can be accessed by pupils remotely, and so during the COVID-19 school closures, we have encouraged Secondary Digital Leader teams to continue working through the training modules. Secondary Digital Leaders can engage with the other aspects of the programme and training platform, from engaging in discussions on the Community to watching our Industry Q&A videos. We have also encouraged Secondary Digital Leaders to take the opportunity to engage with the leadership element of the programme, starting conversations at home about online safety topics.
Primary Digital Leaders
Primary pupils are only able to access the training platform with a teacher present and so to keep online safety on Primary Digital Leader’s minds during the COVID-19 school closures, we introduced a new aspect to the programme – weekly primary activities. At the start of the school closures, we began sharing activities for teachers to in turn share with their Primary Digital Leaders, all of which can be completed independently by the students at home. A new online safety activity has been sent every week and activities have ranged from word searches to writing and drawing tasks, all designed to keep online safety on young people’s minds and to encourage conversations on the subject at home within the family. Take a look below at Oskar from Groveland Primary School’s fantastic poster in response to one of the weekly primary activities.
This year the Childnet Film Competition was adapted to make entering from home easier than ever before and proved to be a great home learning project for young people. We were delighted to see Digital Leaders enter the competition which consisted of Solo, Group and Storyboard categories. One of our Digital Leaders went on to win the Secondary solo category! Take a look at the finalists films here.
The Digital Champions are Digital Leaders from across the country who were successful in applying to be youth ambassadors of the Digital Leaders Programme, representing the Digital Leader community and supporting the Childnet team. Find out more about the Digital Champions and their role within the programme here.
Some of our Digital Champions created videos to share their thoughts on the programme and particularly the youth leadership element.
Below you can watch the videos created by the Digital Champions, where they share their thoughts on the programme.
Thank you to Cosima, Aimee and Jess for creating and sharing these wonderful videos.
If you are interested in the leadership opportunity the programme will provide for your pupils and the impact the programme could have on online safety education throughout your whole school, then take a look at how the programme works and register your interest for more information. Once you have registered your interest, you can request access to a free guest login to our gamified online platform which is training thousands of young people to lead online safety conversations in their schools and beyond.
During school closures young people (and adults alike) are having to adapt to changes to their usual day-to-day lives. Most young people are spending more time at home, and more time online. We asked our Digital Champions for their advice for other young people on how to keep well during this period.
The Digital Champions are Digital Leaders from across the country who were successful in applying to be ambassadors of the Digital Leaders Programme, representing the Digital Leader community and supporting the Childnet team.
Below you can read the fantastic and creative ideas the Childnet Digital Champions shared:
My top tips for these testing times are –
Keep occupied – The Olympics are cancelled, do your own! Create activities for you and your family in your garden or living room! It’s exercise but fun 🙂
Watch Netflix, watch cheesy shows to cheer you up!
Try not to focus on the bad figures – While there are live tolls of the numbers of cases, there are also live tolls on the recovered cases, try to keep track of that 🙂
Download zoom or Houseparty to stay in touch with friends and family – We are so lucky to have the internet and technology during these tough times so make the most of it! Use your phones and iPads to keep in touch with your friends and family! Especially grandparents, they are the ones who are likely to be alone so your video call could really lift both yours and their spirits!
Self-care – Do a face mask, buy yourself a nice bit of makeup to make yourself look gorgeous – for you! Get some chocolate on amazon or even a new football, we can’t go out so treat yourself 🙂
Talk to someone if you’re feeling down! If you’re worried or anxious tell a parent or a friend, worries are not one of those things that you want to keep to yourself, let it out and you will feel much better about it!
I have been setting myself up with a routine daily in terms of what I want to get accomplished. It’s really helped me, because I think as school-oriented people who have been taken out of that environment quite suddenly, we do suffer from not having an element of structure in our lives even when there’s not so much we need to do. The way to do this is not necessarily to plan things out by time but set yourself a couple of goals, if there’s something you particularly want/have wanted to do/learn etc.
I’m finding that learning a language and taking daily classes on Duolingo is something positive I can work towards daily and over a larger span of time.
I would also say sleeping too much is a classic mistake – waking up so that you have a good portion of the day ahead of you is massively important, because as students we’re sort of oriented to a very regular pattern of waking/sleeping and if we disturb that it makes us feel as though there’s less obligation to get things done.
Achievement really helps stave off feeling negative; it’s something positive you can do for yourself and only for yourself, which is something we don’t often get time to do day-to-day.
My top tips for keeping well during these times are to be aware of the media content you’re consuming, stay in touch and be kind to yourself. It is of course important to stay up to date with the news and make sure you have a sense of awareness of what is happening in the world, but too much media exposure can do more harm than good. Be aware of the amount of media you’re consuming, by staying up to date, but also not letting your enjoyment online be ruined by constant news and media exposure.
Staying in touch with friends and family can also really help with feeling alone in these uncertain times. I have found myself becoming closer to my friends and more appreciative of spending time with them due to new ways of connecting. Try a video call, or plan something different such as a virtual quiz night! There are lots of fun ways to stay connected online.
And finally, be kind to yourself. Know that it is okay to feel worried and alone during times like these, but also remember that it won’t be like this forever, and it will get better. Please talk to someone you trust if you ever feel as though things are getting too much, because you matter and even though times can be tough, please be kind to yourself.
Thank you to Cosima, Bella and Jess for sharing their fantastic top tips. We hope these tips help other young people who are spending a lot more time at home. If your team of Digital Leaders have top tips you would like to share please email [email protected].
As schools remain closed, we know that many families are looking for projects they can do that are fun, educational and that children can do independently. To help with this we have redesigned the Childnet Film Competition for 2020.
Updated for use at home
You can now create great educational films as a home learning project, with categories that can also be usedin school for those who arestill attending school.
All young people entering must focus their content on this year’s theme: We want an internet where we’re free to…
Taking a look at the new categories
To help young people get involved no matter what setting they are in, we have created these three new categories which can be entered by anyyoung people.
Solo category – where young people aged 7-18 can make their own film.
Group category – which could involve siblings, other family members or friend groups aged 3-18.
Storyboard category – young people aged 7-18 can create a short storyboard and script for a film idea.
What equipment do you need to enter?
The short answer – none!
The slightly longer answer – The key aim of the competition is to enable young people to learn about positive use of the internet and continue to create fantastic content to educate their peers.
As always, the films won’t be judged on the camera used or the audio quality, they are judged on the message and educational value.
We are encouraging young people to make a film using whatever technology they have available to them, whether that is a mobile phone, camera, tablet, or webcam.
We also understand that some young people may prefer to enter without using technology, so the new storyboard category means they can enter the competition with a script and storyboard for a short film.
How is the competition judged?
Once you have created your film or storyoard then it is time to send it to us. Please send all the files to us at [email protected] by 5pm on Monday 22nd June. Please do not post any entries, entry forms or consent forms this year.
If your film is too large to email to us, you can share it with us by using sites like Dropbox and WeTransfer.
All content will be judged by our prestigious judging panel, made up of David Austin (BBFC), Lisa Prime (BAFTA), Catherine McAllister (BBC) and Mark Reid (BFI).
Competition closes: 22nd June 2020
Finalists announced: 29th June 2020 Judges’ verdict: 3rd July 2020
One of our Digital Champions, Jess from Selston High School, was invited to attend the Safer Internet Forum in Brussels on 21st November 2019. Jess was selected to represent the UK within the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Panel, made up of around 25 young people from across Europe.
We asked Jess to tell us about her experience at the Safer Internet Forum. She provided us with a report detailing how she collaborated with young people from other countries and how she found the whole experience. Read Jess’ report below:
“The Safer Internet Forum is an event held annually to spread the word about positive Internet use and bring people together to share their views on different topics surrounding the online world. In 2019, I was chosen to represent the UK and speak as part of the BIK Youth Panel to help make a change for young people online, with the Safer Internet Forum being a way to express our views and take a stand for youth online.
Due to our limited time in Brussels, we needed to come up with ideas and ways to kick-start our campaign before reaching the conference itself. This was done through various web conferences, starting a couple of months before we were due to arrive. These online meetings helped us put together ideas, get to know each other more and ultimately prepare for the event properly. Lots of brilliant ideas were thrown around in these meetings about how we can spread our message, both online and offline, and how we can kick-start our campaign. In the end, we chose to go with an Instagram account, informing and helping young people to use the Internet positively and responsibly. You can find us at @bik.youthforyouth.
During my time at the Safer Internet Forum in Brussels, Belgium, I took part in lots of different activities and helped to prepare for our session within the Forum itself. Not only did we hold many discussions on important topics facing today’s youth online, but we also covered less talked-about topics such as helplines and misogyny in gaming. These activities helped is build skills in communication, teamwork and organisation. We also planned our session for the forum itself and discussed many things such as the survey we ran, how to present our Instagram account and speeches we would perform in our session.
Of course the forum itself was an incredible experience, however the other young people I met whilst there really was the highlight of my trip. Seeing how the Internet can bring a group of young people together from all across Europe really highlighted why I believe the online world is such an amazing place to be. After weeks of chatting with each other online, we finally all got to meet face-to-face and share our message to a wider audience. Everyone was so kind and supportive, it really was an experience I’ll never forget.
After attending the Safer Internet Forum, I learnt not only so much more about online safety, but also more about the power of the Internet; how it can bring people together, to share a universal message and help change young people’s lives online for the better. There is so much negativity in the media surrounding the online space, however this experience taught me that no matter where you are in the world, the Internet can unite us all and bring us together as one amazing, supportive community full of people just like you and me, and bring about a change online.
This experience has changed my life, and without the Internet, I never would have met such awe-inspiring people who are helping to make the Internet a better place for people like you and me. “
Thank you Jess for being an excellent representative for young people across the UK and ensuring that youth voice is heard. Find out more about our Digital Champions here and take a look at their plans for the year ahead as well as more information about their role within the programme here.
The Childnet team are happy to announce that the Digital Leaders Programme has recently reached two milestones! Take a read below to find out more about these milestones and how the programme has developed over the years.
How the programme started
The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme began with the aim to engage young people in online safety education in new and innovative ways. By speaking to young people directly, we found that they found online safety education more valuable and relevant when it was delivered to them by people their own age. By directly consulting with young people, teachers and educational settings, Childnet created the programme to give young people an opportunity to take the lead in online safety education, making it more impactful overall. The programme started in 2014 with just a few pilot schools.
How the programme has grown
The programme has grown tremendously over the last 6 years, impacting more and more young people in Primary and Secondary schools every year. Take a look at our Digital Leader Group map below or on our Impact and Reach page, which shows the reach of The Digital Leaders across the UK and beyond. As well as growing in reach, the programme has developed significantly over the years, now offering more participation and collaboration opportunities to the young people and schools engaged with the programme.
To date, the Childnet team have run four Digital Leaders Regional Events across the UK as an opportunity for Digital Leaders to meet, receive exclusive training and collaborate on ways to impact their school communities.
Other developments include the community newsletter which features monthly programme updates and announcements, and a programme Twitter account, @ChildnetDL, to showcase Digital Leader achievements.
The programme now also has a youth representative board, the Digital Champions, who help the Childnet team to ensure the programme remains youth led. We have seven Digital Champions who represent a youth voice, which is essential to the programme’s success. Learn more about the Digital Champions here and read part one of their guest blog post about their responsibilities and plans for the year ahead here.
We are proud to announce that the programme has recently reached two milestones. The programme has now had over 1000 subscriptions and over 4000 Digital Leaders have completed the training, qualifying as Childnet Digital Leaders!
Congratulations to all of these qualified Digital Leaders and thank you for contributing to the success of the programme. The programme relies on the support of dedicated teachers who lead the programme in their school and support their Digital Leaders in impacting their school communities, so a big thank you to all school staff who have been involved in their educational setting.
Digital Leaders are always impressing the Childnet team with their creative ways of sharing their knowledge and impacting their school communities. Take a look at some brilliant Digital Leader achievements here and make sure to keep an eye on the blog for regular programme updates and Digital Leaders achievements.
We are excited to see which milestone the programme reaches next, how it will continue to develop and what the Digital Leaders will achieve over the coming years.
As UK schools close, or run at a limited capacity as a result of COVID-19, we know that parents and carers are having to manage their child’s use of technology and help them learn remotely. This can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help!
Using the Secondary Digital Leaders training platform at home
Secondary Digital Leaders are able to access our training platform remotely and independently of their teacher. The programme provides a useful learning tool for use at home during this time and Digital Leaders are encouraged to use the additional features on the platform to connect with other Digital Leaders, especially as people find themselves isolated and spending more time online. Educating family members is also a great way to demonstrate the peer-to-peer training aspect of the programme.
Here are lots of other useful resources and tools that you as a parent or carer can use to help ensure your child is safe and happy online.
If you are a school or teacher, make sure that you send this information on to parents and carers in your school community!
As your children spend more time at home and are going to be online more than ever, we’ve pulled together a list of easy-to-use resources. They are broken up into ages and include quick activities, films and plenty more fun ways to engage with your children. From identifying fake news to online bullying – there is plenty for you and your family to use.
We will be adding more content for each age group as time goes on. If there are any particular topics or ways of working you would like to see more of then don’t hesitate to message or tweet us @childnet.
Getting advice and guidance if something goes wrong
As young people spend more time online there is also an increase in the chances they will see something online which isn’t intended for them. Whether this is fake news, impersonation, or mean comments, there are lots of places you can go to for help and advice on how to report this behaviour. Together as a family you can also help prepare your children and build their critical thinking skills.
Making a report
reportharmfulcontent.com is a website designed to help you report anything which you believe shouldn’t be online. There’s guidance about how to report different types of content as well as help with the next steps you can take if your report isn’t actioned by the site or service you have made it on.
Speaking to someone
For young people – depending on the age of your child there are a range of places they can go to for help. For younger children they can call Childline for help and support, and for older children The Mix offer free and practical advice.
For parents and carers – The O2 and NSPCC helpline can help you with any questions or concerns you may have about keeping your child safe online. They can provide you with advice and help to troubleshoot any problems your family may be facing.
For educators or professionals – The Professionals Online Safety Helpline will continue to operate Monday to Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm. This helpline can assist with any online safety issues or concerns any professional working with children and young people may have. For help and support, please email [email protected]
A family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet. As you have everyone at home, it’s a fantastic way to set boundaries and discuss how you are all going to use technology during this time. Where is tech going to be used in your home? How are you going to share it and what times of the day can different family members have access? It’s also a great way to discuss how to behave online and talk about what happens if something upsets or worries your child.
As a parent or carer, the best tool to support your child in leading a happy and safe life online is open conversation. Our Parents’ Guide gives advice on how to begin these discussions, how to work together as a family to support your child online, and how to handle difficult conversations or situations.
From livestreaming and parental controls, to grooming, our website has advice for parents and carers on a range of topics.
Staying connected with your peers
We are seeing some ingenious ways of people keeping in touch using technology, from virtual PE lessons with The Body Coach on YouTube, to year groups having Skype calls at the time when school breaks would be. There are so many ways that young people can stay connected during this time.
We would love to know how you are all staying connected during these school and work closures. Be sure to share your plans with us on Twitter @childnet.
This blog post was originally posted on the Childnet website.
Welcome to the March post of our monthly achievements and updates blog. Here we congratulate schools who have completed their training over the past month and share good news stories from Digital Leader schools.
Well done to the Digital Leader teams from the following schools who have recently completed their online training!
Brentfield Primary School – 2nd cohort!
Kensington Prep School – 2nd cohort!
Lady Eleanor Holles Junior School
Monkshouse Primary School – 3rd cohort!
Notre Dame Senior School – 2nd cohort!
Penwortham Primary School
Rosebank Primary School
TASIS The American School in England- Secondary
Last month Siobhán and Fabian visited Barnfield Primary School Digital Leaders to learn about what they have been doing to share their online safety knowledge and support their peers when on the internet. We were really impressed with the Digital Leaders’ plans for how they will impact their school community in the coming months. Take a look at the blog post about our visit to Barnfield Primary School including some top tips for online safety that their Digital Leaders shared with us!
Safer Internet Day 2020
Well done to all of the Digital Leaders who took part in Safer Internet Day across the country by running and being involved in activities in their schools. Take a look at our blog post about the Safer Internet Day London event and the important roles that Digital Leaders had at the event, from running activities for the guests from industry and policy, to being the youth host and key note speaker!
Digital Leaders were also involved in developing the Young People’s Charter for Safer Internet Day, which Aimee and Cosima, two of our Digital Champions, presented to government on the day. Read more about the Young People’s Charter here.
Many Digital Leader teams across the UK featured on their schools’ Twitter on Safer Internet Day. Well done to all Digital Leaders involved in celebrating the day, we are so impressed with the breadth of activities that Digital Leaders were involved in at their schools. Safer Internet Day celebrations ranged from assemblies, to videos and lessons around the theme of #freetobe: exploring identity online.
Take a look at some examples of tweets featuring Digital Leaders celebrating Safer Internet Day below.
Make sure to let us know what your Digital Leader team did to celebrate Safer Internet Day to be featured in a blog post round up! Contact us at [email protected]
The theme of Safer Internet Day in the UK this year looked at identity online and how young people manage, curate and navigate their online identity. Digital Leaders from five schools, a mixture of primary and secondary, attended the Safer Internet Day event at the BT Centre in London on 11th February.
Guests from the internet industry as well as services which support young people, government and policy attended the event which was organised by the UK Safer Internet Centre and hosted by Homyra, a Digital Leader from Mayfield School.
Digital Leader teams from Coopers School, Harris Academy Tottenham, Leigh Academy Blackheath, Stanburn Primary School and Woodcote Primary School attended and prepared and led activities around the theme of identity online for the guests, to encourage them to think about what this means to young people and whether everyone is free to be themselves online.
Digital Champions, Aimee and Cosima, were also in attendance to talk to guests about the Young People’s Charter. Take a look at our blog post about the Young People’s Charter and Digital Leaders’ involvement in the development of the charter here.
Young people give their thoughts on online safety
Homyra kicked off the event in the auditorium by welcoming everybody and introducing speeches from Marc Allera, CEO of Consumer Goods at BT, who spoke about how proud he was to host the event at the BT Centre as well as Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet and Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre. Will spoke about how important Safer Internet Day is, and how it can be used to to start conversations around young peoples’ lives online and talked about the breadth of activities that young people across the UK were doing to celebrate the day.
Will presented the Safer Internet Day research report, ‘Free To Be Me: piecing together identity online’ which looks at how young people manage, curate and navigate their online identity and highlighted the key findings from the research to the guests.
Aimee then delivered the youth keynote speech. She spoke about why she wanted to become a Digital Leader, what her new role as a Digital Champion involved as well as the importance of the theme of exploring online identity.
After the speeches, the guests were invited to take part in the Digital Leader led activities. Activities included drawing your own avatar to display your online persona, thinking about which scenarios are more likely to happen offline or online and looking at the things you do online that make up your online identity.
Guests received stickers for visiting each activity station. Aimee and Cosima also ran an activity which involved explaining the Young People’s Charter and asking the guests to make pledges in how they are going to champion the charter. Take a look at our blog post about the Young People’s Charter here.
Everyone then returned to the auditorium again for the final part of the event. This session involved a panel hosted by Natasha Devon MBE with panellists from a variety of organisations which support young people, such as The Mix, Girlguiding and Glitch. The Digital Leaders in attendance had prepared questions for the panel around the theme of how young people manage their online identities and what support there is for young people in managing their online lives. This created some great discussions among the panel.
The day was a huge success and we were so pleased to have so many Digital Leaders in attendance to lead the event and represent the entire Digital Leaders community. Thank you to the Digital Leaders who attended as well as their teachers and chaperones who supported their pupils on the day. Thank you also to the Digital Champions, Aimee and Cosima, for attending and speaking passionately about the Young People’s Charter, and to Aimee for her impressive key note speech. Thank you also to Homyra for being an excellent youth host, welcoming guests to the event and introducing speakers to the stage. All of the Digital Leaders in attendance were fantastic in their roles on the day.
Take a look at the Safer Internet Day research report here. And the Young People’s Charter here.
Make sure to let us know what you did to celebrate Safer Internet Day in your school by emailing [email protected], so that we can include your activities in a Safer Internet Day roundup blog post!