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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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!
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!
Schools and youth groups have until Wednesday 8th June to submit all film or storyboard entries.
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.
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.
Everything you need to know about taking part, together with categories and entry packs, can be found here.
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:
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.
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.
Learning how to stay safe online has never been more important.
To support schools in teaching children the importance of online safety, Childnet has devised its innovative Digital Leaders Programme, which empowers pupils to educate their peers about safe internet use.
The programme is benefiting hundreds of schools across the UK and the Digital Leaders 2020 Impact Report showed:
– 100% of teachers said the programme prepares young people to be peer educators
– 95% of teachers said the programme has impacted on a whole-school level
– 86% of teachers would recommend the programme to another school
– 81% of teachers said the programme has helped their school staff fulfil their safeguarding duties
Here, Danielle Antha, Childnet Digital Leaders Programme Manager, outlines how the initiative works and the benefits for pupils, teachers and whole schools…
What benefits can the Digital Leaders Programme bring to your school?
The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme is an innovative and engaging way to bring online safety education to your school or educational setting.
Staff feel empowered to teach relevant online safety issues with the support of our online training platform and receive step-by-step guides and lesson plans from the Childnet Digital Leaders team. The peer leadership element helps to develop online safety education via a whole-school approach.
As part of our international Digital Leaders community, settings can network with other likeminded settings to share good practice, tips and ideas. Schools have also reported:
– A reduction of online safeguarding incidents
– Pupils increasing in wellbeing as a result of taking part
– The ethos of the school has improved to promote kindness and respect both online and offline
Teachers report enjoying participating in the programme and how easily the programme fits in with the timetable. The programme can also help to showcase how your school’s online safety practice is youth-led as evidence for Ofsted reporting.
How will it benefit your pupils?
Pupils benefit from having access to our online training platform, and access learning developed by Childnet’s online safety experts. The expert knowledge they will receive will help them to increase their competencies in approaching online safety risks and enable them to engage in safer online behaviours.
After the core modules are completed, Digital Leaders will take the lead in delivering online safety activities in their school or setting. This helps young people to develop team working skills and helps them to feel empowered and confident.
Online safety is for absolutely everyone, so it’s a great opportunity to give those young people who may not be recognised in other areas, such as academia, sports or the arts, a platform to shine in their school communities.
There are other additional opportunities that might be extended to Digital Leaders as well.
These include regional events for your team to receive exclusive training from the Childnet team and to meet and work with Digital Leaders from other schools, participation in the yearly Safer Internet Day campaign, helping to develop new learning content, participating in consultation surveys (such as the recent Online Harms White Paper consultation) and receiving a visit from the Childnet team to hear about your progress.
How does the programme work?
Schools recruit their team of around 8-12 Digital Leaders and they are uploaded to the online training platform by the Childnet team. There are separate platforms for primary and secondary schools with age-appropriate learning content.
Digital Leaders meet to work though the core modules, each covering a different aspect of online safety. The primary learning modules are designed to be completed with a teacher running the session.
The secondary learning modules are designed to be completed more independently and meet with their teams to discuss what they have learnt and how they will share learning with others. We recommend meeting once a week.
Once the core modules are completed, they officially qualify as ‘Childnet Digital Leaders’ and receive their official certificate and pin badge from Childnet through the post.
They go on to share their learning with other students by leading online safety activities at their setting.
Activities may consist of leading whole-school assemblies, running sessions in other classes, making a poster for display, creating a survey or running a campaign – we encourage settings to be as creative as they like!
There are additional activities on the training platform such as our Community, where Digital Leaders from different schools can discuss online safety issues and support each other, along with our Industry Q&A videos and opportunities to find out about (and maybe apply to) our Digital Champions group.
Is it suitable and relevant to all ages of pupils?
The primary and secondary learning content has been developed with Key Stages 2 and 3 in mind respectively. However, we have Digital Leaders as old as 18 and as young as six!
Digital Leaders just need to have a passion for the subject, although they do need to have a certain level of literacy in order to make their way through the modules.
Childnet Digital Leaders is a youth leadership training programme which empowers 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 educate and support their peers.
The Digital Leaders Programme isn’t ‘only’ about online safety – 95% of teachers asked said the programme has impacted on a whole-school level. And the Digital Leaders themselves agree, with 84% feeling they can ‘make a difference’ in their school.
“There has been a greater awareness of online safety around school and there is a feeling that everyone is involved,” commented one Digital Leader teacher.
There are individual benefits for the pupils too – with 100% of teachers saying that the programme prepares young people to be peer educators, while almost eight in ten teachers said Digital Leaders have improved wellbeing.
It enhances online safety
The core aim of the Digital Leaders programme is to help young people stay safe online – and it certainly does that, with 100% of Digital Leaders saying the training made them more knowledgeable about online safety.
Almost nine in ten Digital Leaders said the training covered the key issues faced by young people online, while 81% of teachers noticed safer online behaviours from young people due to the programme.
It helps schools fulfil safeguarding duties
“The programme has an impact on the students… they have matured and are in a stronger position to peer lead. Being part of the programme has enhanced our safeguarding ethos,” said a Digital Leader teacher.
Meeting safeguarding requirements is vital for all schools, and once again Digital Leaders can contribute to this, with 81% of teachers saying the programme has helped their school staff fulfil safeguarding duties.
It increases pupils’ confidence
We know wellbeing can be positively impacted by the programme, but so to can confidence levels – 93% of Digital Leaders said the training made them feel more confident about educating pupils in their school. Meanwhile, 83% of teachers said Digital Leaders are more confident due to the programme.
“I enjoy the Digital Leaders Programme because I would really like to help make a change to young people’s lives,” remarked one secondary school Digital Leader.
It can even help to educate parents
The benefits of the Digital Leaders programme extend beyond the school gates – and back to pupils’ homes. An impressive 98% of Digital Leaders said they can help parents understand the issues young people face online.
Interestingly, 94% of Digital Leaders also said young people should have a say about how internet safety is taught in their school.
“Being a Digital Champion has been such an amazing lesson in how to handle responsibility and organisational pressures,” said Bella, a Childnet Digital Champion.
Aimee, did you enjoy being part of Safer Internet Day?
I really enjoyed it because, despite it being online, I was still able to be a part of some amazing events and talk to so many people who I wouldn’t usually speak to, such as news reporters and radio stations, about the importance of Safer Internet Day. My highlights were speaking to ITV and BBC Radio Scotland as I have never done something like that before, so it was a completely new experience.
Why is Safer Internet Day important?
I think it’s extremely important as we do need to keep the conversation going on how to keep kids safe online. Although the internet has many benefits, it can still be quite a dangerous place and Safer Internet Day is the perfect time to address these problems and teach parents, teachers and children how to stay safe in the constantly changing environment of the internet.
How did it feel to help promote the day?
I felt great! It felt like I was doing my part in something big and working with people as a community to try and make a positive change in the world.
How has the Digital Leaders programme helped your school?
It has allowed us to do a lot of the teaching, so the children feel that it’s more relatable as we are around the same age. Students feel more comfortable speaking about their experiences online with us and they listen more to what we are teaching them as they find it more relatable. Overall, it’s been a success!
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.