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Looking at Safer Internet Day 2021– Four Months On

Several months on from Safer Internet Day, David Wright (UKSIC Director at SWGfL) takes a look back at the record breaking day.

It can be hard to believe that Safer Internet Day was four months ago. It seems only yesterday when we all woke up that morning and realised that this year’s Safer Internet Day was going to be substantially different in a number of ways. We weren’t going to Anfield Stadium to celebrate the day with a group of a wonderful students and we weren’t travelling to London to meet up with our colleagues from Childnet and IWF to join together for our largest online safety event of the year.

Despite all this, we knew that this Safer Internet Day 2021 was going to be more important than ever. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that more and more children and young people were spending more time online. Not only that, but remote learning had played an important role for most of the year and the need for online safety awareness was at an all-time high.

Misinformation Online

Our theme was chosen because it seemed more applicable than ever. Exploring reliability and trust online is something that all of us deal with on a day-to-day basis. 2020 saw the rise of the popular term ‘Fake News’ take headlines again amidst the pandemic crisis, not only affecting children and young people, but adults as well.

The topic itself created many important discussions that we felt educators and parents could share with their pupils and families. Over 2,100 organisations throughout the UK also felt they could support this theme by joining in on activities for the day – it really was a topic that resonated with everyone.

So when the morning came and we logged onto our laptops, it was astounding to see the amount of support online. The #SaferInternetDay hashtag trended at number 1 throughout the day. We had over 2.4 million views of Safer Internet Day Films, over 1.5 million downloads of Education Resources, over 112,000 young people tested their knowledge with our online quiz and the media reached 126 million people, across outlets including the BBC, ITV News and Sky News Radio. Even the Pope tweeted about the day!

We weren’t at Anfield stadium but safe to say, it wasn’t going to stop us. Our live stream with Liverpool FC was watched by over 6,000 attendees and has so far amassed over 23,000 views on YouTube. Overall, the statistics have shown that this was our most successful Safer Internet Day to date, ultimately reaching over half (51%) of young people in the UK and 38% of parents and carers.

Having run Safer Internet Day for over a decade, we at the UK Safer Internet Centre had become so accustomed to how the day would normally operate. Realising that we would be running the event remotely this year was something we had to prepare for but we ultimately knew that it would still have the same impact as we had seen in previous years. Now we have seen the record numbers that Safer Internet Day achieved remotely, it is a testament to just how important technology is for the modern era. Not only does it allow important events such as Safer Internet Day to continue but it comes to show how much technology plays such an important role in our lives.

Online safety is rapidly becoming a number one priority for schools and education settings throughout the world and with what we have seen this year, it is fantastic to see so many people raising awareness and getting involved.

 

What does the future hold?

This year’s Safer Internet Day was a milestone, not just for the record numbers but for how the day ran. Next year we hope to be back on the road, going to meet up with colleagues and students from all over the UK but rest assured that despite where we are, the event will continue to be as resourceful and impactful as ever.

As planning for Safer Internet Day 2022 starts, we are actively looking to secure funding to help ensure Safer Internet Day 2022 can be provided and keep the momentum going behind the extraordinary opportunity the Day provides. Do get in touch if you want to join those industry providers who are helping to fund the Day.

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