— Safer Internet Day (@safeinternetday) November 14, 2013
I was recently invited to a meeting outlining the plans for celebrating Safer Internet Day 2014 by Simon Grehan from Webwise.
Webwise is the Safer Internet Ireland Awareness Centre and the official Department of Education and Skills website promoting online safety. Safer Internet Day is a European initiative and I must say I liked their recognition of the reality that young people mainly access the web through mobile devices, using the tagline “Net children go mobile“.
This reality has yet to sink-in, in most schools where dealing with the safer-internet means presenting an anti-cyber bullying campaign rather than a positive pro-social media approach. Many children have a smart-device near at hand – the immediacy if this must be normalised within the process of teaching, learning and play as a tool for research, creation and communication rather than a device that necessarily leads to meanness.
There were many industry partners at the meeting. Two of the companies spoke engagingly
- Trend Micro and their Whats your story competition, as a student-advocacy approach to engaging young people in positive content-creation regarding an anti-bullying message
- representatives from McAfee in Cork who outlined their school-visits as part of a workplace initiative. McAfee’s goal is to reach “…More Than 10,000 Youth, Parents and Teachers in Ireland in 2014”.
There were many others at the meeting with lots of online and paper based ideas and publications for a safer internet but it struck me that there was a lot ad hoc thinking within companies rather than a joined up approach.
I am am not sure it is an efficient use of all these companies obviously genuine human capital doing the same thing slightly differently. Perhaps there is scope for an IT industry driven set of norms that would cross companies, so that a common positive message is given to parents and children in homes, schools and through the various youth services.
From an education point of view it was good to see so many agencies willing to support initiatives in schools and it is timely given the new (2013) Anti-Bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools.
It was also good to hear some leading-edge psychologists from the Royal College of Surgeons, CyberPsychology Research Centre, laying it on the line as to what they believe the up-to-the-minute issues are, the ethics around dealing with them, the supports that must be in place and the merits or otherwise of a student-advocacy type approach to anti-cyber-bullying.
Personally I believe that schools that normalise social-media in small effective ways in as many classes as possible will significantly develop a positive use of the online space. It was good to hear that Safer Internet Day 2014 in Ireland will adopt some of these positive approaches – looking forward to those interactive posters!