It was a pleasure and a delight to have banged the drum for our new partner, the UK Safer Internet Centre, in February this year, helping to celebrate 2022’s Safer Internet Day alongside them.
The thought provoking and hugely apposite campaign, ‘All Fun and Games’, had millions of young people and their carers engaging with it by using the topic of online gaming to stimulate the conversation. According to Ofcom, there was a significant rise in young people turning to online gaming due to the pandemic and being stuck at home for much of the time – 92% of 16-24 year olds turning to online gaming – and that is a habit that’s hard to break. The importance of building supportive relationships and respectful communities when playing together online really has been pushed to the top of many people’s agendas and was understandably right at the heart of the day’s activities.
Millions were able to make use of all the helpful material, tips, activities, resources, and live streamed events from this year’s Safer Internet Day. The feedback from the UKSIC team has revealed some great results – the campaign reached a whopping 54% of young people in the UK between the ages of 8 and 17 on the day, which amounts to over 4 million children and young adults being reached overall.
Some of Nominet’s staff also had their own tales to tell.
Gwen Harris is Nominet’s Continuous Improvement Manager within the Customer Insights Team, and she used the resources to great effect in her role as a Scout’s volunteer.
“I used some of the Safer Internet Day resources to lead some activities with my local Beavers group of 6-8 year olds” said Gwen. “It got them thinking about who is in their ‘circle of trust’, and who they can trust when online gaming. They also learned what ‘personal information’ is and not to give it out when gaming. In fact, we played a game that was aimed at helping them understand what appropriate and inappropriate questions may come their way, how to feel confidence in not answering them if they don’t want to, and that it’s OK to leave a game if they are uncomfortable with questions they are being asked. We also covered how important it is to tell someone they trust about their experience. I think it went down really well – and it was a good sign when they asked loads of questions about it, in exactly the way that 6-8 year olds do!”
This campaign was about everyone playing their part in the communication side of gaming and realising that it is what people say and do online, around the game itself, that could potentially put them in harm’s way, and then knowing how to spot it, deal with it and avoid it. Recognising bullying or harmful behaviour online and protecting young people from it by giving them appropriate tools can empower them to keep both themselves and others safe and happy online, not just in gaming, but whenever they are online.
Amy O’Donnell, who is Senior Programme Manager in Nominet’s Social Impact team, used the UKSIC resources in her role as a youth leader to significant effect, added: “Gaming and communicating online opens whole new dimensions for young people to think about respect in their relationships. In one of our weekly meetings with a group of 11-14 year olds, we used Safer Internet Day activities to discuss the line between banter and bullying. It helped us reflect on how to stay safe, including reporting or blocking when things do not feel right. There was a wide range of experiences among the group from varying parental controls to use of different games, and the session made me realise how fast things are changing. Adults really need to listen to young people to appreciate the realities they face.”
Adam Groves, Senior Programme Manager, Nominet Social Impact, says: “Nominet has been a longstanding supporter of Safer Internet Day, and we’re excited to now be backing the wider UK Safer Internet Centre as well. We could not be more pleased to see how many young people, and their parents and carers, were engaged this year. 54% of children in the UK aged 8-17 heard about the day – which equates to about 4.7m individuals. It’s vital that young people have the information and advice they need to feel empowered when they encounter problems online – and Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity for children, carers, schools and community groups to promote safe and positive use of technology. It was lovely to see my own young son was one of millions of children who engaged in the Day, proudly sharing a poster he made at school!”.
One child’s call to action for UKSID 2022: “Check out the website!”
For more information about the work of the Safer Internet Centre, which provides resources all year round, and for reviews of UK Safer Internet Day 2022, or if you would like to keep tabs on what the team is planning for UK Safer Internet Day 2023, check out the UKSIC website.