65 young people aged 11-18 years who are part of the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme have taken part in a consultation to share their views about the Government’s upcoming Internet Safety Strategy.
The new strategy aims to ensure that the UK becomes the safest place in the world for young people to go online.
Childnet and the UK Safer Internet Centre have taken part in Government roundtables that have examined these issues, and we are helping to ensure that the voices of children and young people play a central role in shaping the strategy.
Digital Leaders have their say
Over 400 schools across the UK are part of the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme, in which we train teams of young people to be effective peer educators and role models to inspire the positive use of technology. Delivered by Childnet through its work in the UK Safer Internet Centre, the programme is delivered through an innovative gamified digital platform, enabling us to regularly consult young people to hear their views about key issues.
Last week we opened an online consultation to invite young people to share their ideas and feedback on the key priority areas of the upcoming Internet Safety Strategy, including: how to help young people help themselves; helping parents and industry’s responsibilities to society.
65 young people took part in the online consultation and we submitted these responses in a report to the UK government. Their responses reflected the positive experiences they are having online as well as the ways they are being supported effectively by industry, their parents, schools and each other. They also highlighted the areas where improvements can be made.
Youth perspectives on industry responsibilities
Young people highlighted the things that they do find helpful:
- “The social media companies add icons such as Reporting, Blocking and Privacy these are helpful because if you are in the situation of cyber bullying these icons are really useful. Also they provide very important messages which are useful, such as how to report someone and how to block someone.”
But they also highlighted what could be improved:
- “Companies could make the report button more visible. Companies sometimes only make the report button visible when you hold on the comment on the offending person.”
- “No feedback is given when something is reported and I often feel like things haven't been done when something serious is reported.”
- “I think that when you sign up to these accounts, privacy settings should automatically come on”
- “They could have a helpline to go to if your report doesn't turn out the way you wanted.”
Youth perspectives on how we can empower young people
“I think it is important to not stop or discourage people from social media, as it is a growing part of modern culture. People should be given the skills to enable them to independently make the right decisions on social media and educate others on appropriate content.”
Young people explained how they like learning about using technology safely and responsibly in a number of ways, through lessons and assemblies in school, peer education, advice on social media services, digital resources and creative activities. At the heart of this was the desire for practical, real-life, hands-on education that gives them the skills to engage responsibly.
- “Use past examples of bad things that had happened to people their age so that they can realise that anything can happen to anybody. There should be more assemblies, workshops and what-would-you-do's.”
- “People do not feel like people will listen if they talk about something that is going on online, this needs to be covered more and people need to make things that are more approachable. Along with this I think that people need to be educated further about general safety. Exactly how people can block, remove, or get help needs to be addressed in much more detail than it already is.”
They saw that they had an important role to play in this, as peer educators in their school, communities.
“Digital Leaders is effective, in my opinion, partially due to the fact that the people teaching will be of similar age to the intended audience, this helps with them relating to us as teachers, increasing interest in what we have to say as they will see us as being more in tune with their line of thinking due to the similar age range.”