February 6th 2018 was Safer Internet Day, an international landmark event on the Internet safety calendar. This year its theme was “create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you.”
Since receiving the Internet Society’s 25U25 award last year, I felt really motivated to get other young people thinking about the Internet and (hopefully) inspiring them to make a difference for the future of the Internet. I reached out to my old school to see whether they would be interested in doing something for Safer Internet Day. Interested I was invited to deliver a full school assembly and work with some of the students on topics of the Internet. Given that there are so many areas that can be covered, I offered to create different lesson plans that aim to allow the students to think about speak about issues with their peers. There was no rights and wrongs, just a space to discuss.
I delivered an assembly to the whole school from Year 7 to Year 13, telling them about how I came to become not only concerned but also motivated to educate others about digital surveillance. I directed the teachers through their privacy settings on their phone to demonstrate how we are being tracked 24/7 – this was a bit of a talking point for everyone in the hall which was great. I wanted to be provocative and ask everyone to reflect on their Internet use and act on things they feel uncomfortable with. I also wanted to convey a message that a young person’s career isn’t defined by their A Levels or their degree choices.
Working with Maddy and Joe from the CDT we created sessions for year 7,9,10 and 11. These can be accessed here should anyone wish to use them. Given that there are only three of us and several classes and years, we each took a Y7 class to help the discussions about sharenting.
I posted an Instagram story about the recommendations the students have for parents:
It was great to speak with young people who have grown up in a world of smart phones and social media and hear their opinions. Maddy, Joe and myself had a lot to take away from the day.
The Internet Society also asked the 25U25 awardees if we wanted to contribute a video about what a safe internet looks like to us. They shared mine over their social media as part of their campaign:
What does being safer online mean to you? On #SaferInternetDay 2018, Kate Green in the UK wants to feel safe when she speaks out about something she strongly believes in #SID2018 #ShapeTomorrow pic.twitter.com/N0G03hKNYN
— Internet Society (@internetsociety) February 6, 2018
So what are my takeaways? I really enjoyed creating educational materials again and it has motivated me to think of different ways I can get people of all ages to learn about these topics. I would really like to incorporate an educational aspect into my PhD work in the future.