On February 7th, it will be “Safer Internet Day“, an event that began as a European initiative, which is now celebrated by over 100 countries. #SID2017 and their theme this year is “Be the Change: Unite for a Better Internet”.
I was drawn to the key messages for this year:
In championing a better internet, the theme aims to encourage people to be the change and make the most of the positive opportunities offered online, while giving them the resilience, skills, knowledge and support they need to navigate any online risks they may come across.
In their Key Messages document, they also offer strategies for children and young people, parents and carers, Educators, social care workers as well as Industry, decision-makers and policy makers. As an advocate for student voice and Digital Leadership, I was happy to read their message for children:
Children and young people can help to create a better internet by being kind and respectful to others online, by protecting their online reputations (and those of others), and by seeking out positive opportunities to create, engage and share online. They can help to respond to the negative by being ‘helpful bystanders’: supporting peers if they encounter issues online, taking a stand against cyberbullying, and reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find. Above all, children and young people should be encouraged to take their stand as digital citizens of the future – participating in debates on the future of the internet, and making their voices heard.
My key takeaways from the other sections include:
Parents and carers can Be the Digital Change …by modelling positive online behaviours themselves, and by also reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find.
Educators and social care workers can help to create a better internet by equipping children and young people with the digital literacy skills they require for today’s world, and giving them opportunities to use – and create – positive content online…
Industry can help to create a better internet by creating and promoting positive content and safe services online and by empowering users to respond to any issues by providing clear safety advice, a range of easy-to-use safety tools, and quick access to support if things do go wrong.
Decision makers and politicians need to provide the culture in which all of the above can function and thrive…
I also noticed that among their supporters are Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat; with Snapchat promising to create special filters for Safer Internet Day.
Check out their website for more details and ways to get involved.
Beyond February 7th: Connect your students to others!
Although I’m not a huge fan of 1-day events for issues that should be prominent every day of the year, Safer Internet Day can be the beginning of a new direction for your class; an opportunity to connect your class to others. Here are just a few examples of upcoming opportunities:
World Read Aloud Day on February 17th is a great way to connect your students to other students around the world around the power of words and stories.
EdChange Global on February 28th is a 24 hours global event from February 28th-March 1st for which teachers and students may facilitate learning about any topic. What an incredible opportunity for positive change!
DigCit Kids,(@Digcitkids) co-created by Marialice Curran and her son, Curran offers regular challenges and provocations which are all about “Being the Digital Change” which is evident by their their hashtag #bethatKINDofkid For example, in January, leading up to Safer Internet Day, they are compiling videos on EMPATHY which they will share on February 7th.
On February 7th as well as every day, I believe that the key to creating a better internet is to focus on Digital Leadership. The more we focus on this, the less we will have to worry about the negative.
Check out the semester-long project that Rachel Murat and her students engaged in: We Have Become Digital Leaders.
I don’t know about you, but I sense that now, more than ever before our students need to see us interact positively both in person and in online spaces.