‘Never too young to learn about internet safety’

Pupils in Mr Baird's P5 class at Carnmoney Primary School designing posters for Safer Internet Day. INNT 07-085-FP

Pupils in Mr Baird's P5 class at Carnmoney Primary School designing posters for Safer Internet Day. INNT 07-085-FP

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Several local schools joined other organisations in celebrating Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, February 11, promoting responsible use of technology.

The theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day, ‘Let’s create a better internet together’, offered the opportunity for participants to focus on both the creative things that children and young people are doing online, as well as the role that adults play in helping to create a better internet.

Year 11 pupils at Ballyclare High, Jessica Smith and Laura Lee, who have designed an e-safety app, are pictured with Mrs Hill and Mrs Ward. INNT 07-451-CON

Year 11 pupils at Ballyclare High, Jessica Smith and Laura Lee, who have designed an e-safety app, are pictured with Mrs Hill and Mrs Ward. INNT 07-451-CON

To celebrate the day, Ballyclare High School launched its Pupil eSafety Forum, with two Year 11 pupils, Jessica Smith and Laura Lee, presenting their plans for an e-safety app to help those who have experienced cyber bullying.

Mhairi Hill, eSafety co-ordinator at Ballyclare High, said: “Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the support that’s available to those who have experienced harm online.

“Through our eSafety education programme, our pupils are empowered to take control of their digital lives and can support each other by sharing their online experiences through our pupil eSafety forum.”

At Carnmoney Primary School, principal Brian Duff stressed that it was never too soon for pupils to learn about using the internet safely.

“Every class was involved in raising awareness of the need to be safe. It is never too young to start as primary ones are online,” said Mr Duff.

Classes designed posters for the computer suite, watched online safety cartoons, and later this week, the use of social media will be the focus of a PSNI discussion with primary seven.

“It is about raising children’s awareness of how to monitor their own use and make children aware of the need to discuss what to do if they encounter activity which is not appropriate,” the principal explained.

Mr Duff also underlined the need for parental awareness and indicated that information sessions are held in the school for parents.

According to the National Children’s Bureau Northern Ireland, one in five young people spend five hours or more on the internet daily and four out of every five young people in Northern Ireland go online every day. Half surveyed were online two to four hours daily.

The main reasons for going online were to access social networking sites (87%), watch video clips (81%), download films/music/books (73%) and do homework (63%).

The UK Safety Internet Centre has given the following advice to parents:

• Talk to your child about their favourite websites. Starting a conversation on a positive foot can lead nicely into a chat about online safety.

• If your child loves to use social networking sites, teach them about protecting their personal information by thinking about what they are sharing and who they are sharing it with. Show them how to use privacy settings, and how to block and report – and advise them to only accept friend requests from people they know in real life.

• Remind your child that showing respect for others online is just as important as showing it offline. Encourage them to think before they post and encourage them to show positive behaviour online.

• There are lots of ways you can advise your child about cyberbullying. If they are worried, remind them to save the evidence and to always tell an adult they trust if something upsets them online.

• There are ways in which you can help to prevent your child from seeing inappropriate content online. Consider parental controls and filtering in your home and also on your children’s portable internet enabled devices.

* Also pictured: Year 11 pupils at Ballyclare High, Jessica Smith and Laura Lee, who have designed an e-safety app, with Mrs Hill and Mrs Ward. INNT 07-451-CON