New Podcast Episode: Safer Internet Day With Childnet CEO Will Gardner

New Podcast Episode: Safer Internet Day With Childnet CEO Will Gardner

In our most recent episode of "Interface," Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet International (fellow partner of the UK Safer Internet Centre) discusses with our podcast hosts the significance of Safer Internet Day and the broader mission of creating a safer internet for all. Hosted by Princess Lowell, one of our young podcast hosts, and Gareth Court, an SWGfL online safety consultant, this chat was an opportunity to hear about all the great work that goes on around Safer Internet Day.

Safer Internet Day 2024

Safer Internet Day 2024 happened earlier this month, which allows our guests to reflect on its impact. Will Gardner, delves into the theme of the day: "Inspiring Change, Making a Difference, Managing Influence, and Navigating Change Online." This theme, derived from extensive focus group work with young people, aimed to empower them to enact positive change in their online interactions.

One key aspect highlighted throughout is the proactive role young people play. Will mentions how 77% of 8 to 17-year-olds have stood up for a friend online against negativity, showcasing a strong sense of solidarity among peers. This notion challenges the traditional view of young people as being unaware of online risks. Instead, young people are actively managing and mitigating these risks online.

Generative AI

The conversation moves towards the challenges posed by evolving technologies like generative AI, such as ChatGPT. Schools have had to adapt, with some choosing to change their approach to homework to prevent an over-reliance on these new tools. Will emphasises the importance of education around new technologies, stressing the need for ongoing conversations with young people to understand their usage and concerns.

It’s discussed how teachers should be encouraged to integrate online safety discussions across various subjects, byincluding important dates like Anti-Bullying Week and April Fool's Day to instigate critical thinking and digital literacy. These dates can help to stimulate conversations that are current and relevant to students' experiences.

Online Safety Act

The podcast also touches on the Online Safety Act introduced last year into the UK. While awareness among young people and parents remains modest, there is a clear demand for stronger regulation of social media platforms. This legislation represents a step towards holding online platforms accountable for user safety.

Princess shares her own struggles with managing technology, highlighting a common challenge of digital addiction and the importance of self-regulation. She stresses the need for individuals, both young and old, to find strategies that work for them, whether it's implementing downtime or deleting certain apps.

The conversation circles back to the collaborative effort needed to navigate the complexities of the digital world. Will emphasises the wide impact of these challenges, where adults and young people alike grapple with similar issues of online behaviour and usage. He advocates for ongoing dialogue as well as utilising young people's voices to shape policies and practices.

The discussion with Will Gardner provides a great introduction for creating a safer and more responsible online community through initiatives like Safer Internet Day. To listen to the full podcast and to listen to more episodes of Interface, make sure to take a look at our podcast page for the most up-to-date discussions around online safety.

Listen to Podcast

Together, SWGfL, Childnet and the Internet Watch Foundation make up the UK Safer Internet Centre, a leading partnership and UK coordinators of Safer Internet Day. To find out more about this work, please visit the UK Safer Internet Centre website.

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