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Join the national conversation about online safety for Safer Internet Day

Will Gardner, director, UK Safer Internet Centre, and CEO, Childnet

At the UK Safer Internet Centre we want all schools, youth groups and education settings to be part of the world’s biggest campaign to make the internet a safer and happier place. Safer Internet Day is a chance to encourage young people to join a national conversation about online safety. A wide range of organisations across the country get involved, promoting the positive use of technology and helping to empower young people to make the most out of their time online.

With a focus on identity online, Safer Internet Day 2020 will be celebrated on 11 February 2020, with the theme, ‘Together for a better internet’. Each year we focus on a topical issue that is affecting young people in the UK, covering something new and interesting to engage them. This year in the UK the day is focusing on identity online and the way that this affects young people; helping them to explore whether the internet allows them to experiment and express themselves, or whether they feel limited in who they can be and what they can share online.

We are encouraging young people to explore how they manage their identity online, and to think about how the internet shapes how they view themselves and others.

The day will provide opportunities to explore how offline stereotypes and discrimination are challenged or reinforced online. By opening up conversations around identity online, the day aims to inspire young people to support each other in being who they want to be online, to celebrate difference, and help work towards creating a truly inclusive internet.

We chose this theme as a result of focus groups in both primary and secondary schools, asking young people about their views about identity online. Young people told us that identity online is an issue they are concerned about, but that it wasn’t something that they had been able to explore in school. After the sessions, we developed educational resources to help young people to learn more about identity online in a way that is practical and motivating.

Free resources for educators

To help educators to explore this sometimes complex subject, our team of ex-teachers and youth workers have created easy-to-use, practical and engaging resources so that all children can explore what identity online means. The resources, tailor-made for each age group, contain quick activities, assemblies, lesson plans, films and more.

There are four education packs designed for use with young people, a pack for parents and carers, and a pack to support educators delivering sessions. All of the resources are available in English and Welsh, and have their own age-appropriate content and theme. There are also films to help provoke discussions with young people and with parents.

We have found in the past that these resources are a valuable way to engage children as young as three, using the day to jumpstart online safety education in nursery or school.

Over 2,100 supporting organisations

Safer Internet Day has grown year on year: last year over 2100 organisations and schools across the UK registered as official supporters, and our records show 46% of young people in the UK heard about the day.

To help you deliver impactful sessions our pack includes ideas for getting the most out of the resources,  supporting young people with the issue of identity in a digital age, as well as advice on handling disclosures about online risk.

It’s also important that conversations around online safety don’t stop when young people leave school for the day. Parents and carers have an important role to play in keeping young people safe online, so the range of resources includes activities and films that parents can use to spark a discussion with their children, eg after the session they have received during their school day.

More resources are coming soon to UK Safer Internet Centre website, including an interactive quiz looking at identity online, top tips for young people, parents and carers, and updated graphics you can use to spread the word on social media.

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