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Exploring The Power of the World Wide Web

Celebrating 'Safer Internet Day' at school.

On Tuesday 8th February we celebrated Safer Internet Day, a global event which seeks to challenge us all to use the internet as it was intended and to be more aware of the ways we are using it.   

Increasingly we read and hear stories telling us that the Internet divides and that it poses new risks every day. Social media is cited as one of the central contributing factors to the sharp increase in mental health concerns.  Safer Internet Day focuses on what we can do to change that.  Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, believes: 

“The web is for everyone, and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.” 

We’re marking this important day for students with activities in tutor time, lessons and an open Q&A session at lunchtime.   

With these matters in mind, we hosted ‘Parenting in a Digital Age’ last week, run by Souster Youth.  It was a superb opportunity to consider how parents can support their children to use the Internet safely.  The feedback reflected what we felt during the event: that some research is shocking and that we need to engage openly and consistently with young people about what they’re accessing and how they’re keeping themselves safe.  

A useful structure on which to hang such discussion is ‘The 4Cs’ of Internet safety: 

1. Content: what are students being exposed to? 
2. Contact: with whom are they engaging, and how do they know? 
3. Conduct: how are they and others behaving online? (Cyber-bullying is now very common.) 
4. Commerce: are students being exposed to the earliest forms of gambling as well as the risks presented in game or app purchases? (Loot boxes are a good example.)   

In addition, it’s worth checking that your child/ren know how to block inappropriate users and report concerns. These are vital steps for online safety. 

To support these conversations at home, the Children’s Commissioner has published Things I Wish my Parents had Known. It draws together advice from 16-21 year olds for parents to manage conversations about what their children are accessing online.  The guide is highly informative and can be found here: 

Talking to your child about online sexual harassment: A guide for parents