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07 Feb 2018

Smoothwall teaches online safety to Rye St Antony School as part of Safer Internet Day 2018

Following last year’s successful Safer Internet Day at Rye St Antony, yesterday Smoothwall travelled back to the school in Oxford to host various online safety workshops in aid of Safer Internet Day 2018.

The message of online safety is more important than ever, with new statistics from UK Safer Internet Centre showing that two in five 8-17 year olds say they have felt worried or anxious on the internet in the last week, with one in ten (11%) reporting they have often felt this. The research went on to highlight that despite the often-publicised negative effects of social media use, the internet plays a pivotal and positive role in how young people develop relationships and maintain their social lives in 2018.

The theme for this year’s Safer Internet Day was ‘Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you’. This promotes the important message that if young people use the internet responsibly, it can be a safe and enjoyable space to explore and learn. Rye St Antony School were keen to share this message and teach their pupils responsible use of the internet, for when both in and out of the classroom.

Rye St Antony offer boarding facilities and therefore have an extra level of responsibility when it comes to safeguarding children.Sessions took place throughout the day, beginning at 11.20am with pupils from Year 9. It was evident from the beginning that young people are becoming more tech savvy, with the majority of the 13-14 year olds already aware of how to stay safe online and have privacy settings enabled on their social media accounts.

The focus of the session was around digital wellbeing and how excessive use of social media can contribute to mental health illnesses. The pupils were particularly intrigued to learn about digital footprints and how their activity now, can impact their future. As the session came to an end, the pupils were given the opportunity to take over our social media accounts, with a prize going to the post with the most interaction. To see the posts, visit our Twitter and Instagram profiles.

In the afternoon, we were joined by pupils in Years 5 & 6 to talk about what content is and isn’t appropriate to post online. Pupils at this age shouldn’t be using social media, so instead we focussed the session around their experiences of using the internet, in particular with online games. It became apparent that pupils were unaware of how to block and report users when using Roblox - find out how you can report violations and block a user here.

A common topic of discussion in both sessions was cyberbullying. Our research into the impact of technology in the classroom, found that cyberbullying has increased by 37% in the past year alone and talking to the pupils has only emphasised how big the issue really is. All of the pupils that we spoke to had seen hurtful comments online, therefore it was important to reinforce what to do should the situation happen again.

Finally in the evening we held a session for parents around not just their own online safety, but also encourage safe online use to their children. We discussed age restrictions of online games, sharing settings on social media, geolocation settings, the autoplay feature on YouTube and lots more. Claire Stead, Smoothwall’s Online Safety Ambassador, was featured on ITV News (Meridian) discussing the day’s events.

The day's activities also featured in a number of other articles, including The Sun and the Oxford Mail.   Smoothwall would like to thank the pupils, parents and teachers at Rye St Antony School for their time, and for offering such a welcoming and open environment to discuss online safety.

If you’re interested in having Smoothwall come talk to pupils and parents at your school, please contact us, or if you have any questions regarding online safety please leave your comments below.

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