By Will Gardner:
Will Gardner is a Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet, one of the three charity partners in the centre. He sits on the Executive Board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. 

Tuesday saw the celebration of Safer Internet Day across the world in over 150 countries. As organisers of the day here in the UK it was absolutely incredible to see the range and variety of activities that took place right across the country.

The theme for this year’s Safer Internet Day in the UK was ‘Our internet, our choice: understanding consent in a digital world’. The campaign saw so many come together to help inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Over 2,100 organisations across the UK delivered activities for the day, including schools, police forces, government, companies, football clubs, charities and others – more than ever before.

Throughout the day it was great to see the impact of Safer Internet Day on social media. On Twitter the #SaferInternetDay hashtag trended in the UK throughout the day, accompanied by the hashtag emoji. On Snapchat there was a filter available right across the UK.  We saw schools, organisations, football clubs and wider make #OurInternetOurChoice pledges, showcasing how they are taking positive actions to build a better internet.

In the weeks leading up and on the day itself, our educational resources have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and used in schools across the country as well as the films on SID TV being viewed and our quizbeing played. The message at the heart of all of these resources was about the way that young people can think critically about how they ask for, give and receive consent online.

Young people’s experiences highlighted across the UK

This Safer Internet Day, Safer Internet Centre conducted brand new research looking at young people’s experiences of consent online, this explored the challenges and rules that young people face online when sharing content. The research found that 81% of 8–17s say they know when and how to ask permission online, but 52% say someone they know shared a photo or video of them without asking them first.

There were youth events across the UK which helped ensure that the day really reflected the voice of young people. At these events young people met Government ministers, policy makers, industry representatives and more, with opportunities to share their experiences of being online and their recommendations for how this space can be improved for young people.

  • In London 50 young people from both primary and secondary schools ran activities and took part in for panel discussions around the theme of online consent. The event was attended by Minister for Digital Margot James, Department for Education Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi, and over 100 policymakers and guests.
  • At Anfield, home to Liverpool Football Club nearly 500 young people from schools across the city took part in an event incuding an assembly, workshops focusing on consent online, stadium tours and meeting Mighty Red the LFC mascot. This event was also attended by Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.
  • At Goodison Park, home to Everton Football Club 240 young people from 24 schools in the city came together to take part in Safer Internet Day activities.
  • In Scotland Maree Todd MSP visited Newbattle High School in Midlothian to meet the students and staff as they celebrated Safer Internet Day 2019.

SID in the Media

Safer Internet Day was profiled on national TV and radio, including, BBC Newsround, BBC Radio Wales, CBeebies Radio, the Chris Evans breakfast show, Capital radio, the Evening Standard, ITV News online, Metro, Radio 4 You and Yours, Sky News, talkRADIO , TES, and Yahoo! News.

The Impact of Safer Internet Day

We know that Safer Internet Day can have a hugely positive impact. As a result of the collective action last year we reached 45% of UK children and 30% of UK parents, with the majority going on to speak their families about staying safe online and feeling more confident about what to do about any worries online.

As we compile the numbers, it’s too early to say how many we have reached this year, but we do know that together we will have achieved a real difference to the digital lives of children right across the UK.

From the many conversations, activities and events that have been taking place, it’s clear that the day was such a success because of the collaborative efforts of everyone who came together to help create a better internet.

Creating a respectful and positive internet for children and young people is essential and we hope that the momentum of Safer Internet Day will help us in our collaboration to make this happen. Thank you to everyone for taking part and helping to make a better internet.

Credit: Safer Internet Centre