Schools across the Western Isles will be taking part in Safer Internet Day tomorrow (Tuesday February 5th).
The national awareness day originated in Australia and is now promoted across the world, with lesson packs and school materials available here in the UK to help ensure young people gain greater awareness of the risks and limitations of using the internet.
The theme of this year’s event is ‘consent’, with activities designed to empower young people to take control of their digital lives and to consider how consent works in a digital context. In practice, that means making sure that people have agreed to what is being said and shown about them on the internet.
Western Isles police chief inspector Ian Graham will be at Balivanich School to present a live-streamed talk to all island schools from 11am, with the technology of the e-Sgoil project used to invite all schools to participate. There’s also to be a quiz with live participation from all the schools and pupils from Balinvanich will give their own presentation.
At Laxdale school (in Laxdale Hall) from 4.30 to 5.30pm today and tomorrow, parents and children will be offered presentations and information from one of the Comhairle’s E-safety representatives. Tomorrow afternoon at Shawbost school, Police Scotland’s preventions and interventions officer Fiona Macleod will conduct lessons for primary 1-3 and P4-7 children and meet parents.
All the internet safety activities in the Western Isles are co-ordinated by a child protection committee which is a partnership between police, social work and housing representatives and other organisations such as the charity Action for Children, the children’s panel and the Comhairle’s education and children’s services department.
CnES development officer Gordon McKay said that materials provided by the umbrella project Safer Internet Day (SID) are being made available to schools and they’re being encouraged to take them up and use them in whatever way is most appropriate to the age of their children.
He said: “Teachers are being encouraged to work with their classes to inform children and to make sure they know that they can question what’s happening on the internet and get help to deal with it.
“From the child’s point of view it’s about how to keep safe on the internet while having fun, and how to report it if you feel that something isn’t right. If a child feels disrespected, bullied or uncomfortable with something they see or hear, if there’s something that concerns them, they should ask for help.”
Sergeant Fiona Macleod added: “Safer Internet Day is an international awareness day, and here in the UK it’s is a chance for people to come together to try and encourage everyone to use the internet more safely.”