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.
The impact of the Digital Leaders Programme on young people’s online behaviours, confidence, knowledge and wellbeing as well as whole school impact.
The Digital Leaders Programme is Childnet’s peer to peer online safety training and leadership programme, available to UK educational settings. The programme empowers young people to be ‘Digital Leaders’, leading their peers and whole school community in online safety education. We regularly hear about the brilliant ways that Digital Leaders are impacting their communities, from leading assemblies for other year groups, to writing articles in school newsletters, and leading sessions for parents on how to support their children online.
In order to evaluate the impact of the programme, we conduct an annual survey for participants of the programme, including young people and their teachers. The results of this survey inform our annual Impact Report and we are happy to now present our Digital Leaders Programme Impact Report 2020! We are excited to share this report with the wider online safety community as we’re thrilled with the results. They are a testament to the incredible young people we have on the programme, who are working so hard to teach others about online safety.
The report shows how the programme impacts young people’s online behaviours, confidence, knowledge, and wellbeing, and prepares them to be peer educators. It found that:
93% of Digital Leaders said the training made them feel more confident about educating pupils in their school
81% of teachers have noticed safer online behaviours from young people as a result of the programme
81% of teachers said the programme has helped their school staff fulfil their safeguarding duties.
As the school year has come to an end and summer holidays have begun, it is a great time for us to look back over the year at the Digital Leaders Programme. Take a look through this second part of a two-part roundup of the year including programme highlights and impact, as well as some of the brilliant achievements of Digital Leaders! Click here to look at part one.
This year we had 7 Digital Champions on the project, and you can read more about them here. The Digital Champions act as ambassadors for the programme and were involved in various additional activities throughout the year. Within their role, they supported the programme in many ways, including representing the Digital Leader community at events (see below), as well as providing feedback on new modules.
Take a look at the upcoming guest blog post by this year’s Digital Champions where they reflect on their role within the programme. If you would like to apply to become a Digital Champion next year then keep your eyes on our blog and newsletter for information on applications opening next term!
We have kept in touch regularly with the Digital Champions as they have continued in their role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to the Champions for continuing to be active in their role and not letting school closures get in the way of their Digital Champion responsibilities! The screenshot below is from our most recent video call with the Champions, when we had a Zoom party to celebrate the end of the year. We also said farewell and best wishes to Bella and Niah who are leaving their Digital Champion roles!
Digital Leader represented the UK at SIF Brussels 2019
One of our brilliant Digital Champions, Jess, was selected to represent the UK at the Safer Internet Forum in Brussels in November. Jess was selected to join the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Youth Panel, made up of around 25 young people from different countries across Europe. In the lead up to the event, the group collaborated on a campaign to spread their message around the forum’s theme of ‘From Online Violence to Digital Respect’. At the forum they held discussions on online safety topics, led a youth session and facilitated roundtables of attendees. Read more about Jess’ experience attending the forum here.
Safer Internet Day 2020
Young people from across the UK came together to celebrate positive use of the internet on Safer Internet Day 2020. The theme for this year was exploring identity online and young people celebrated the theme in incredible and creative ways. Many Digital Leaders took a lead in activities in their school; running assemblies, creating informative videos to share with peers and running surveys are just a few examples of the wonderful ways that Digital Leaders raised awareness of online safety. Take a look at the tweets below for some more examples of how Digital Leaders celebrated the day across the country.
Digital Leaders met government and internet industry for Safer Internet Day 2020
The UK Safer Internet Centre hosted the annual Safer Internet Day event in London which was attended by representatives from the internet industry as well as services which support young people, government and policy. Groups of Digital Leaders from five schools attended the event and ran activities to get the guests thinking about the topic of exploring identity online. The pupils also asked questions to a live panel of representatives from organisations which support young people. The Digital Leaders played a crucial role in the day and ensured that young people’s online lives were the focus of the day. The youth host and key-note speaker were also Digital Leaders, Homyrah and Aimee, who both engaged the audience brilliantly and spoke with passion about the theme. Take a look at our roundup of the Safer Internet Day London event here.
Young People’s Charter for Safer Internet Day 2020
The UK Safer Internet Centre, in consultation with Digital Leaders across the UK, created the Young People’s Charter for Safer Internet Day 2020. The charter outlines four clear demands for the government to protect young people online, and support them to express their online identities. Digital Champions, Aimee and Cosima, presented the charter to MPs at Westminster on Safer Internet Day and spoke to them about the importance of the key demands for young people. Read more about Digital Leaders involvement in the Young People’s Charter here.
Earlier this year the Digital Leaders Programme reached some new milestones! The programme has now had over 1,000 subscriptions and over 4,000 young people have qualified as Digital Leaders! Read more about the journey to reaching these milestones here.
This month we released our 2020 Impact Report. It is really important for us to evaluate the impact of the programme each year so that we can measure it’s efficacy, strive to keep improving and share how vital youth-led online safety education is. Take a look at our annual Impact Report 2020 webpage here or the two-page Impact Report document here.
Digital Leader tweets of the year
We love to see Digital Leaders featuring on their schools’ Twitter. Take a look below at some of our favourite Digital Leader tweets from this year.
There have been lots of programme highlights over the year and many more Digital Leader achievements! Thank you to all of the Digital Leaders who have taken part in the programme this year and to all of the supportive teachers running the programme at their schools. We look forward to continuing to develop the programme over the next academic year and hearing about the fantastic ways that Digital Leaders are impacting their communities!
If you have any questions about running the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme in your school, please do get in touch at [email protected].
As the school year has come to an end and summer holidays have begun, it is a great time for us to look back at the activities that have happened as part of the Digital Leaders Programme over the last year. Take a read through this two-part roundup of the year including the programme’s highlights and impact, as well as some of the brilliant achievements of Digital Leaders!
Adapting the programme through COVID-19 school closures
The end of this school year has been very different to other years due to the COVID–19 school closures. Back in March when the closures were announced, we adapted the programme to ensure that the young people were able to continue their online safety education and feel part of the Digital Leader community whilst learning from home. We have also extended all current subscriptions to cover the period of time that schools were closed and will review this extension again when the new school term begins. Take a look at our blog post about how the programme has continued to run over the last few months, ensuring that online safety stayed fresh in Digital Leaders’ minds while spending more time at home.
End of Term Leaderboard
Congratulations to the Digital Leader teams from Barnfield Primary School and Bellerbys College Cambridge who finished the school year top of the primary and secondary Leaderboards! Well done for your hard work earning points on the training platform this term and making you way to the top of the Leaderboard! We are excited to see which teams make it to the top next term.
New training modules
This year we released nine new training modules across our online platforms! Six of these modules were related to specific events such as Safer Internet Day and Anti Bullying Week, so were available on the platform exclusively for a limited period of time in the lead up to these events. These modules are designed to encourage Digital Leaders to engage with these campaigns. The other three modules are bonus training modules, two of which are for primary aged pupils and one is for secondary pupils and are on the topics of Safer Gaming and Data and Privacy respectively. These modules were developed in response to feedback from Digital Leaders, around what they what like to learn about on the programme. Thank you to JFS, Forest School and Sellincourt Primary, who were involved in creating these modules. The ‘Safer Gaming’ module was developed in collaboration with Roblox.
We’ve got some really exciting developments next year regarding our training modules so do keep your eyes peeled on our newsletter for more information!
Cardiff Regional Event
In November we had our fourth Digital Leaders Regional Event! This time the Childnet team travelled to St John’s College Junior School in Cardiff to host a Digital Leaders Regional Event for pupils from across the area. More than 50 young people were in attendance from several local schools. The event was an opportunity for young people to discuss online safety topics and collaborate on peer learning activities to take back to their own schools. The topic of the day was reporting, and pupils received training from Childnet’s expert team on how and what to report. To read more about the Regional Event look at our Regional Event blog post.
This year we released our first ever Industry Insider Q&A! The first edition of the series featured Laura Higgins, Director of Community Safety and Digital Civility at Roblox. Laura kindly answered some really fantastic questions that Digital Leaders had submitted. The questions covered many topics from reporting and safety in gaming to careers in tech. So many questions were submitted that we had to make the video into three parts! Thank you to all the Digital Leaders who submitted questions for the Q&A and thank you to Laura for taking the time to answer the brilliant questions. Take a look at Laura’s Q&A videos here.
Community Prize Posts
The Community part of our training platforms are an open and monitored space for Digital Leaders to discuss important online safety topics, as well as share peer-learning ideas and experiences. At the beginning of this year we introduced Community Prize Posts for secondary Digital Leaders. By engaging in these Prize Post conversations, secondary pupils are in with the chance of winning a monthly prize. Winning posts are selected from the most thoughtful, relevant and insightful of all of the responses to Prize Posts within that month. Congratulations to all of the winners throughout the year and thank you to all of the Secondary Digital Leaders who have engaged with these posts. We look forward to more thought-provoking online safety conversations on the Community next year!
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].
We are happy to announce that our first Digital Leaders Industry Q&A is now live on both our primary and secondary Digital Leaders training platforms! Our first Q&A is with Laura Higgins, Director of Community Safety and Digital Civility at Roblox. Find out more about Laura here.
In this first series of Q&A videos, Laura answers questions submitted by both Primary and Secondary Digital Leaders about things such as safety and security on the Roblox platform. Thank you to all of the Digital Leaders who submitted questions for Laura to answer. We received lots of really excellent and thoughtful questions and were only able to film Laura answering a few. You can watch the videos below:
Laura, Roblox – Industry Q&A part 1
Laura, Roblox – Industry Q&A part 2
Laura, Roblox – Industry Q&A part 3
Look out for future Industry Q&A videos featuring industry insiders answering questions from the Digital Leaders community!
We have also worked in collaboration with Roblox to develop our ‘Safer Gaming’ module for Primary Digital Leaders which has been launched alongside this Industry Q&A. The module was developed by the Childnet team with support from Roblox, in response to feedback from Digital Leaders and their teachers. We worked with the Digital Leaders team at Sellincourt Primary School who did a fantastic job in helping us to develop the module.
Thank you, Laura, for taking the time to answer Digital Leaders’ questions and thank you to Roblox for supporting the Digital Leaders Programme.
Let us know who your Digital Leaders would like to hear from for future Industry Q&As! And if you have any feedback, thoughts or suggestions for future module topics, or would like to help us develop a future module please do get in touch at [email protected].
The Childnet Digital Champions are Jess, Bella, Maryam, Niah, Oyinkan, Cosima and Aimee. They are a group of 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. The Digital Champions had their kick-off day on 23rd January at Facebook offices and the day was a chance for the young people to get to know each other, find out what to expect in their role as a Digital Champion and lots more!
Here is part two of two blog posts written by the Digital Champions which explains what they got up to on the kick-off day and what to expect from them in the coming months. Hear from Aimee and Maryam in this blog post and look back at part one to hear from the other Digital Champions.
How did we become Digital Champions?
Aimee: We all had heard about the opportunity from various places, I received an email about it but I know it was also in the newsletters as well. We first did a survey answering questions about our involvement with the Digital Leaders Programme, our aspirations and our inspirations. Not long after we were chosen for interviews where we answered a few more questions about us as well as what parts of the Digital Leaders Programme we wanted to improve and finished with an activity where we had to plan a Safer Internet Day workshop. At the end of this, the successful applicants all received emails saying we had become Digital Champions which was incredibly exciting! Personally I found the process really fun and I would recommend every interested Digital Leader should try it next time.
What are you going to do as a Digital Champion in your school?
Maryam: As a Digital Champion in my school, I think what’s mainly important for us right now is settling the new students and new Digital Leaders into what the role entails. We aren’t only trying to combat internet safety, but internet equality – after all, it is a basic human right and is something that we all deserve, regardless of being offline or online. Currently my school are developing a scheme trying to combat this and spreading the message to our Year 7s and other younger years. Our inspiration mainly stemmed from not only my original goal as a Digital Champion – which was wanting a more positive internet, but what I heard from the other Digital Champions during the kick-off day. Their ideas of equality really struck something in me and has given me the courage to share it with my school. This is an on-going project and I hope that we are able to not only represent this for Safer Internet Day, but for all of our time at school.
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.