Earlier this week saw SWGfL host Online Safety Day – an event bringing together hundreds of professionals and parents from all over the UK to hear all the latest online safety information from leading professionals.
The day brought together our very own David Wright (Director of UK Safer Internet Centre) and Boris Radanovic (Engagement and Partnership Manager), Will Gardner (CEO of Childnet) Carolyn Bunting (CEO of Internet Matters) Professor Andy Phippen from Bournemouth University and special guest Dave Miles (Facebooks Safety Policy Director for Europe) to talk about new projects, helpful resources and guidance for the new school year.
What was discussed?
Boris Radanovic hosted the event whilst introducing all guest speakers and engaging them with questions throughout the two-hour session. We started with several videos from schools, discussing how they have found the current situation with COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions. They talked about how they managed their online safety during this time along with how communication was achieved within the community through various channels. This was topped off with a very moving poem about the current state of the typical school classroom.
Andy Phippen – Bournemouth University
Andy Phippen was the first guest speaker and spoke in depth about the survey we posed to all attendees before the event. He highlighted that most practitioners do not believe online safety is less of a concern than it was 10 years ago and the rise of social media and app use for children was more of a concern. The results showed that most would want to see more effective and diverse resources as well as seeing shared responsibility across stakeholders. He went on to say that most believed that lockdown posed a greater risk to young children as they were spending more time online but this was believed more because of the medias influence as opposed to actual research findings. He followed these claims up by revealing that contrary to media reporting – on average there was a 25% reduction in safeguarding disclosures since lockdown. He concluded by saying that either, there is no more risk during lockdown or that abuse and harm are not being disclosed properly whilst stressing the importance of research, in particular from the 360DegreeSafe tool.
David Miles - Facebook
David Miles was next to be introduced. David spoke in great length about the Facebook resource that education professionals can refer to when using the Facebook family of apps including Whatsapp and Facebook pages. He went on to launch the new Facebook Get Digital programme which allows those working with young people to get lesson plans, conversation starters, activities, videos and other resources to help young people become empowered in a digital world. There are also resources tailored to young people and parents and carers as well. The topics which are highlighted in the programme include Digital Foundations, Digital Wellness, Digital Engagement, Digital Empowerment and Digital Opportunities.
David Wright - SWGfL
David Wright started his session with an image of a closed school which resonated with many of our viewers. He went on to discuss the impact of remote learning and highlighted the effects that COVID-19 has had towards young people online. This was followed by a recap of the essential SWGfL resources including Safer Blended Learning, Online Tutoring and Video Conferencing: Safeguarding Considerations. David spoke about our current projects including ProjectEVOLVE and 360 Degree Safe which will guide professionals for the new year in digital literacy and online safety practice. It was also the perfect opportunity to introduce the launch of the online safety index which was also published earlier this week showing where in the country each local authority ranks in online safety performance. David stressed the importance of our helplines POSH, RHC and RP in the current climate and touched upon the Whisper and Reputation Alerts products which can help schools stay on top of communication worries and online reputation.
Carolyn Bunting – Internet Matters
Carolyn Bunting took over with a host of informative guidance about the amazing work Internet Matters does along with supportive resources for those working with or supporting vulnerable children. She highlighted that young people with SEND are significantly more likely to experience contact risks, including sexting under pressure, coercion, blackmail or threats to send more images. It was also apparent that parents of vulnerable children reported higher levels of experience on a variety of online safety issues compared to non-vulnerable. She introduced the Connecting Safely Online hub which Internet Matters worked with Facebook on which includes advice for young people, parents & carers along with activities to do together. The hub was tested by young people with SEND and accessible to all with a wide range of disabilities. Carolyn also spoke about the launch of a new programme which is in partnership with ourselves called the Inclusive Digital Safety hub which provides vital support for professionals, parents and young people themselves, with a particular support for children & young people who are experiencing vulnerabilities due to SEND, Experience of Care or Gender & Sexual Identity Issues.
Will Gardner - Childnet
Will Gardner was the last of our guest speakers and took the opportunity to talk about Safer Internet Day along with some of the fantastic resources that Childnet provide. He announced the new slogan for the day which is: An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world. The campaign focuses on knowing what to trust online and supporting young people to question, challenge and change the online world. He also spoke about the impact Safer Internet Day has whilst noting that last year 49% of children aged between 8-17 had heard about the event. This was followed by some introductions to Childnets resources including the Digital Leaders Programme, the Let’s talk about Life Online resource, the PSHE toolkits including Myth vs Reality and Crossing the Line. He also reflected on the Childnet film competition and some of the amazing entries they had received.
Q & A
This was all topped off with a Q & A session with all guest speakers. The audience had the chance to put forward questions throughout the duration of the session. Topics such as management of screen time were discussed along with specific questions relating directly to each organization and their resources. The dilemma of discussing online challenges such as MOMO were also brought forward along with the importance of age restrictions for social media etc. Guests were then asked to fill out a form to be put in for a printed resource pack whilst being directed to some of our own resources for the new school year.
The day marked a huge step forward for our online events. SWGfL would like to thank everyone who attended along with our guest speakers. We will be looking to do similar events in the future so don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter!