Over 170 countries observe Safer Internet Day worldwide, and that number keeps growing each year. To mark Safer Internet Day 2020, on Tuesday, 11 February 2020, Webwise, the internet safety initiative of the Irish Department of Education and Skills, launched a new educational resource called "Connected – An Introduction to Digital Media Literacy".
Connected – An Introduction to Digital Media Literacy
For Safer Internet Day, Webwise launched a new free digital media literacy education programme, called Connected, for Junior Cycle (middle school) students. Connected consists of five modules exploring young people's rights and responsibilities online, emerging digital technologies and topics including big data and the data economy, deepfakes, false information and online wellbeing. The five modules are:
- My Online Wellbeing
- News, Information and Problems of False Information
- Big Data & the Data Economy
- My Rights Online
- Publishing Online – Group Project
The programme is mapped to the Junior Cycle Digital Media Literacy Short Course and will help students get a better understanding of the role of digital technologies and develop key digital media literacy skills to responsibly navigate the online environment. Connected aims to empower young people to be effective, autonomous and safe users of technology and online media. The programme is also supported by video materials created by Webwise, which will help introduce students to complex topics such as big data, misinformation and online wellbeing.
National Director of PDST, Ciara O'Donnell observed: "Our new programme – Connected – will give students an appreciation of the role of digital technologies in their day-to-day lives, as well as help them develop key digital media literacy skills to responsibly navigate the online environment."
Professor Brian O'Neill, Director of Research at TU Dublin also said of the resource: "There are huge benefits to the internet. Equipping our future generations to grasp and enjoy these benefits involves investing in their capabilities. Comprehensive, curriculum-based programmes are essential in giving young people the knowledge and skills to be resilient online citizens. Equally, teachers need the understanding and materials to impart digital literacy. The new Webwise programme – Connected – responds to these dimensions, and is a good example of collaborative work by many agencies and experts in the pedagogy and digital technology fields." Professor O'Neill also added that "online safety comprises a broader set of skills that go beyond privacy settings. It's about being digital media smart, and to be smart requires learning and awareness".
Connected has been freely available at webwise.ie/connected since Tuesday, 11 February 2020. On the same day, Webwise held a special launch event at Twitter Headquarters, Dublin. The event included a special guest panel discussion on emerging technologies, which featured journalists, educators and online safety experts. The event closed with a youth panel showcase of Safer Internet Day initiatives and a panel discussion. Following the launch, Webwise sent out copies of the Connected programme to all second-level schools in Ireland.
The resource is also available to download in Irish here: webwise.ie/connected-irish
Students take the lead in celebrating Safer Internet Day
On Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Webwise hosted the Safer Internet Day Ambassador Training Day in Google Headquarters. The SID Ambassador programme is about reaching out to post-primary students, encouraging and supporting them to address the issue of cyberbullying and other areas in internet safety by leading awareness-raising campaigns in their clubs, schools, and communities. Webwise provided online and offline training to the youth ambassadors to get them involved in Safer Internet Day. Over 100 students from across Ireland gathered together to participate in the peer-led training day as part of the programme. The aim is to make Safer Internet Day a success in communities and schools across Ireland.
The SID Trainers, who are also members of the Webwise Youth Advisory Panel, led students through icebreaker activites. They then moved on to a series of prescribed Webwise activities on data footprint, online wellbeing, digital resilience, cyberbullying, and the role of influencers. They also mentored the participants in how to run effective Safer Internet Day events in their schools, clubs or organisations. Each SID Ambassador has committed to leading an internet safety campaign in their school for Safer Internet Day.
For the first time ever, teachers were also able to receive Safer Internet Day training on the day. Members of the Webwise team, along with advisors from the PDST Digital Technologies Team and the PDST Health & Wellbeing Team, ran workshops for teachers on how to best support their students to lead their Safer Internet Day initiatives.
Safer Internet Day events across Ireland
Almost 700 schools and organisations have registered Safer Internet Day events on the Webwise Events Map which can be viewed on webwise.ie. Activities range from school assemblies, student mentoring, positivity weeks, online safety talks and workshops addressing topics like consent online, digital wellbeing, big data, false information and respectful communication.
Safer Internet Awards for Online Safety Initiatives
To recognise the work being done around Ireland for Safer Internet Day, Webwise will hold a Safer Internet Day Awards Programme. The SID Awards are open to both primary and second-level students and have a range of competitions students can enter. Primary school categories include: a Picture Competition, Best Video, Best Music, Colouring Competition and a Poster Competition. Post-primary categories in the competition include: Best Use of Social Media, Best Use of Technology, Best Arts (Music, Poster, Art, Writing), Best Anti-Cyberbullying Campaign, Best Video, Best Whole School Campaign, Teacher Leadership and the Safer Internet Day Ambassador Leadership Award.
There is a host of amazing prizes on offer, and the awards ceremony will feature special guests and will be held in Facebook Headquarters for secondary school winners. Schools have until Wednesday, 11 March 2020 to enter the competition. For more information, visit www.webwise.ie/sidawards.
Organisations take action for Safer Internet Day
Trend Micro is promoting online safety through their "What's Your Story" competition – a film and poster competition for young people to highlight creative, impactful and responsible ways to use the internet. The 2020 theme is "If the internet disappeared today, what would your life be like?"
More information on the competition and the winner will be announced on whatsyourstory.trendmicro.ie.
CyberSafe Ireland is marking Safer Internet Day 2020 by launching two new videos made by children from St. Kevin's NS, Sallynoggin, designed to encourage discussions in the classroom around healthy use of technology. Both videos were devised, written and performed by the pupils themselves, and made entirely on a smartphone to also highlight the positive use of new technologies. The short films will be premiered in a whole school assembly in St. Kevin's NS in Sallynoggin, where they were created.
Dr Barry O'Leary, St.Kevin's National School Principal, said of the project: "The pupils really enjoyed the experience of creating the videos and were full of enthusiasm throughout the project. It provided a fantastic opportunity to tease out issues and really get them engaged in the topic of healthy use of technology, as well as demonstrating the creativity that is possible with only a smartphone. It is vital that all young people who are active online have the opportunity to have these kinds of discussions regularly both at home and in school."
For more information about Safer Internet Day activities in Ireland, visit the Irish Safer Internet Centre's Safer Internet Day profile page.
Find out more information about the work of the Irish Safer Internet Centre (SIC) generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.