I’m told by two reliable sources here at home that Tik Tok and Snap Chat are where it’s at for Gen Z (And probably Gen Alpha too I imagine) and indeed that (To quote a past student) “Facebook is for Grannies”🤔Whilst the latter might spark some serious debate, I’m entirely accepting of the fact that I’m clueless when it comes to the latest social media trends and I’ll probably forever remain behind that curve. That said, as someone who has been knocking around technology for more years than I wish to remember, I can recall when Friendster, Beebo, MySpace and others were modish and more sobering the all too regular havoc their misuse caused to unsuspecting parents and in-turn teachers when invariably these early social media skirmishes ended up at the classroom door. Yes, it happened outside of school but that didn’t matter a jot when weekend scores were being settled in the school yard. And whilst the tools and the technology landscape our young people inhabit are unrecognisable from what went hither to, the dangers and potential pitfalls remain the same, as Paul Simon wrote “Nothing is different, but everything’s changed”. As ever it remains incumbent on us teachers (And parents) to stay up-to-date and vigilant so we can keep our students (Children) safe by supporting them on their journey to becoming responsible digital citizens. It’s akin to following a moving target, now (Or any other time in the future for that matter) is not the time for complacency….

And so, to accompany these cautionary words, I want to plug the brilliant Safer Internet Day campaign happening Tuesday, February 7th. Safer Internet Day (Or SID) serves as, a timely yearly reminder of the importance of cyber safety and a classroom focal point to revisit and reinforce how we can keep ourselves and others, safe online. Now in its 20th year, SID first developed as an EU initiative now reaches far beyond EU borders and is marked in circa 180 countries worldwide. It primarily sets out to raise awareness about online safety and promote and develop safe, responsible, and positive use of the internet. This year’s call to action is ‘Together for a better internet’ with the focus is on promoting respect and inclusivity online and explores themes like consent, data privacy, cyberbullying, digital identity and social media.

Organised by PDST Technology in Education and promoted through Webwise, a dedicated SID Hub at www.webwise.ie/saferinternetday/ provides information, resources, and ideas about how to get involved and below I’ve highlighted some of the interesting events/activities they’ve listed. In addition, there is a call out for schools and community organsiations to register any events they are planning to mark #SID2023 and those who do will receive free online safety packs.

So, no excuses, get more internet savvy in 2023 and start the conversation in your classroom, ‘Together for a better internet’ …

Programme highlights

  • A special event which will provide a platform to hear youth views on the topic of bullying and abuse online; a panel discussion on promoting respectful and inclusive online friendships; interactive youth-led activities; and a showcase of Safer Internet Day 2023 activities from around Ireland.
  • A social media campaign featuring three short films created to raise awareness of the complex issue of cyberbullying, reflect common experiences of young people, highlight the different roles involved in incidents, and consider the at-risk groups. The campaign will encourage the audience to consider their own behaviour and attitudes and help create more inclusive, tolerant communities on and offline.
  • Free education resources, lessons, activities and videos addressing a range of online safety and digital media literacy topics including cyberbullying, image-sharing, privacy, online well-being and more.
  • The SID Ambassador Training Programme, a blended training programme comprising both online training sessions with a full in-person training day for the youth ambassadors which will equip students with the knowledge and skills to lead their own online safety campaign in their school or community.

Supports for Teachers

In addition to the lesson ideas, activities and videos you can find at Get Ideas for Safer Internet Day, Webwise have created a suite of Safer Internet Day Presentations for both Primary and Post-Primary. These include primary presentations for use with 1st and 2nd class, 3rd and 4th class, and 5th and 6th class. Whilst the Post-Primary presentation explore topics including News, Information and the Problems of False Information; Managing Your Online Wellbeing; Respectful Communication Online and Self-Esteem Online. Presentations, notes, and take-home activities can be downloaded here.

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