The internet offers unlimited scope and tools for learning, communication, and collaboration. It’s becoming a large part of children’s lives from an early age, and in recent years, the pandemic has seen students spend more time online than ever before.
Recent research by UNICEF found that one in three young people have experienced cyberbullying, and one in five students have skipped school because of bullying online. Against this backdrop, making students aware of the risks that come with being online is a non-negotiable for educators.
With 2022’s Safer Internet Day just around the corner on Wednesday 8 February, we look at how teachers and schools can raise awareness of the importance of smart, safe internet use – both on Safer Internet Day and every day.
What is Safer Internet Day?
Safer Internet Day is an annual global event that aims to raise awareness of online safety. Celebrated in almost 200 countries in February each year, Safer Internet Day explores emerging online issues and has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar.
Safer Internet Day has a different area of focus each year – from cyberbullying to social networking to digital identity. In 2022, the theme for Safer Internet Day is Play it safe and fair online.
Tip #1. Sign up to be part of Safer Internet Day 2022
Australia’s eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) is the world’s first government agency dedicated to keeping people safer online. eSafety’s education and training team has created a range of Safer Internet Day resources and activities to make it easy for educators and schools to promote online safety. Visit www.esafety.gov.au/safer-internet-day-2022 to sign up and download a Safer Internet Day campaign kit.
Tip #2. Ask students about their online experiences
Use open-ended questions to ask your class about their experiences online. Try questions like: “Have you seen someone being bullied online? How do you think it made them feel, and how did it make you feel?” This is a helpful way to gauge their level of understanding about online safety and will ensure future conversations are at the right level for your student group.
Tip #3. Give simple, age-appropriate information about cyber safety
Kids Helpline has excellent age-appropriate resources for kids 5-12, teens, and young adults. Their tips for primary-aged children include:
- Don’t share personal information like your full name, address or phone number online
- Make your profile private and only talk to people you know
- Think before you post or send
- Talk to a parent or someone you trust if you’re worried about something that’s happened online
Teenagers and young adults can learn more about cyberbullying, sexting, gaming, pornography, and social media and mental health.
Tip #4. Introduce students to Google’s Be Internet Awesome
Google has created Be Internet Awesome to help kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world. It teaches them the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence. From helping them to spot scams to creating strong passwords and speaking up against online bullying, Be Internet Awesome’s Interland is a fun way for kids to develop the skills they need to stay safe online.
Tip #5. Encourage parents to be informed and reinforce learnings
www.esafety.gov.au/parents has a wealth of resources that families can use when speaking about online safety. Information sheets, videos, and activities cover topics from cyberbullying to online sexual harassment and parental controls.
The internet is a fantastic resource with an infinite amount of information. By teaching students how to look out for themselves and others and be safe online, schools can support them to embrace their ever-curious minds while being cyber safe. Get involved with Safer Internet Day and make conversations about online safety an everyday topic in your classroom.