Today is Safer Internet Day. This European initiative has now become a global event with schools, organizations and companies encouraged to help children and young people be safe on the Internet. Each year has a different focus and for 2016, the theme is ‘Play your part for a better Internet.
Key events and resources for this year will look at young people examining ways to take ownership of the Internet and discuss initiatives to reduce cyber bullying and hate statements.
Key emphasis on the day will be the Twitter hashtag '#shareaheart' and representatives from companies, football clubs and other organisations will be visiting schools to spread the message. The UK Safer Internet Centre also has a range of activities on the day including SID TV, discussions with celebrities, the social media ‘thunderclap’ and a range of other events.
The key question is that after the intense media activity on the day, what happens on Wednesday 10 February? The point for schools is that Internet safety is not just for one day, but for life. The schools that tick their e-safety box on Safer Internet Day and do nothing for the rest of the year are doing a great disservice to their pupils. An ethos around online safety needs to pervade through the school all year round with initiatives to engage students and stakeholders on the safe use of technology.
Whilst SID is great for building awareness, we need to look at countries such as Scotland who have a monthly focus on e-safety during March. This is backed up by a national TV campaign which makes it hard for parents to ignore. Indeed, this 'drip-drip' approach is so important in embedding the message that digital parenting is a key aspect of being responsible guardians.
Other ways to ensure Internet safety is part of the year-long curriculum include planning events throughout the year that will focus on engagement with pupils and parents. This includes a focus on cyberbullying during November to link in with Anti-Bullying Week or a refresh of the school e-safety polices in August. For more ideas, E-safety Support members can download a 2016 planner with further suggestions for activities throughout the year.
If you are a school taking part in Safer Internet Day, then I wish you a great day. And don't forget, now is also a great time to review your e-safety strategy and ensure that you have systems in place to be proactive and make sure that your Safer Internet Day efforts are used to ensure that is more than just a one day event.
Entry for our SID2016 #esstips has now closed with well over 700 fantastic entries - we will be announcing the winners during the course of Safer Internet Day