Ahead of Safer Internet Day on 5th February, local MP, David Rutley, has given his strong backing to this important initiative to help young people stay safe online and build a better Internet.
This year's Safer Internet Day will have the theme of 'Together for a better internet'. This will seek to demonstrate how young people can use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. It will also focus on how consent works in an online context, and will ask young people to explore how they ask, give, and receive consent online. This could be in their friendships or relationships, how they take and share images and videos or how they manage their privacy and data.
First launched in 2004, Safer Internet Day is a global campaign that aims to promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people, and is marked in around 140 countries. In the UK, the campaign is once again being taken forward by a partnership bringing together three leading organisations: Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning, in support of the campaign's important goals.
Last year was the biggest ever Safer Internet Day, with over 1,000 schools and youth organisations taking part. The campaign hopes that this year's event will be bigger still.
Making the Internet a safer space for young people is an important priority for David. He works closely with local charity Just Drop-In, as its Patron. The charity works to support young people aged between 12 and 25, by providing counselling, support and information, as well as building important life skills, all of which is intended to help young people 'find their feet'. David is also a strong supporter of the local Emotionally Healthy Schools project, a collaboration between local health services, schools and young people’s charities, which focuses on training teaching staff to help them become more fully aware of the mental health and wellbeing needs of the most vulnerable children and young people – often magnified by social media.
Speaking ahead of Safer Internet Day, David said, "With young people spending increasing amounts of time on the Internet, it is crucial that they are more fully aware of how to stay safe online and how social media can impact their mental and emotional well-being. I welcome Safer Internet Day's aims in promoting a more responsible and respectful online environment, and hope that as many local schools as possible will take part, enabling this vital message to reach more young people in our local communities."