Safer Internet Day 2022 – bigger than ever as millions take part in global celebrations

16 Feb 2022 Becca Cawthorne

Last Tuesday saw the celebration of Safer Internet Day across the world in over 170 countries. As organisers of the day here in the UK, it was absolutely incredible to see the range and variety of activities that took place right across the country. Over the last year, we have seen young people spending more time online than ever before, so this year’s Safer Internet Day sparked important conversation like never before.

The theme for this year’s Safer Internet Day in the UK was ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online’. The campaign saw so many people come together to help inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

Over 3,400 organisations across the UK delivered activities for the day, including schools, police forces, government, companies, football clubs, charities and others. Safer Internet Day was profiled on national TV and radio, from the BBC and ITV to the Evening Standard and Metro. Coverage included young people across the country being interviewed about their experiences and hopes for the future of the internet.

Throughout the day, it was inspiring to see the impact of Safer Internet Day on social media. On Twitter we saw the #SaferInternetDay hashtag trending at number one in the UK throughout the day, accompanied by the hashtag emoji. It was amazing to see the huge number of schools and organisations who tweeted about the day!

The #PlayYourPart campaign also trended on the day with young people across the country sharing their offline templates decorated with the ways they could help create an internet where everyone feels respected.

We’ve also seen millions engage with the day online in fun and creative ways from a bespoke emoji on Twitter, influencers getting involved on Instagram, and a lens and filter on Snapchat. We saw schools, organisations, football clubs and wider express what they wanted from a better internet, including how to #PlayYourPart in creating a better internet.

In the weeks leading up to and on the day itself, our educational resources have been downloaded thousands of times and used in schools across the country, as well as the Safer Internet Day Films being viewed and our quizzes being played.

These resources explored how young people navigate relationships online with respect, focussing on online gaming spaces. We used these resources to help young people explore their lives online, looking at how they interact with both their friends and strangers. All of the free resources are still available to download on our website.

Young people leading the campaign

To us at the UK Safer Internet Centre, it’s clear that young people’s experiences have to be at the forefront of how we work together to achieve a better and safer internet for all young people.

This Safer Internet Day we conducted brand new research looking at how young people are navigating respect and relationships online. From surveying over 2,000 children, the report reveals that the importance of online games in young people’s lives has continued to grow, with nearly half (48%) saying that if they couldn’t game online anymore, they would feel like they’ve lost a part of who they are.

We also found that 63% of young people said that playing online games is one of their favourite pastimes, with more than three quarters (76%) saying it gives them something to do, and 59% saying it makes them feel good about themselves.

However, the research reveals the impact that negative experiences during gameplay can have on young people, with respondents reporting at least one negative emotion in various situations. This includes seeing someone being mean or nasty (73%), seeing someone cheat (73%), and falling out with a friend (68%) when playing an online game.

We also worked with young people to develop a Young People’s Charter for Safer Internet Day 2022 on how government and online stakeholders can help create a more respectful and kinder internet. We have produced this Charter from speaking to primary and secondary age children in focus groups, consulting members of the Youth Advisory Board, Childnet Digital Leaders and Digital Champions, surveying young people, and reviewing the findings from our latest research.

Youth Voice at events across the UK

This voice of young people was championed in virtual youth events across the UK, placing them at the centre of what needs to be done. At these events young people met Government ministers, policy makers, industry representatives and more, with opportunities to share their experiences of being online and their recommendations for how this space can be improved for young people.

In London we hosted an event that featured a panel of young people who shared their experiences of being online. They also spent time discussing their wishes for what stakeholders, industry, policy makers and parents and carers can do to support them. We also saw speeches from Marc Allera, Head of Consumer Goods for BT, EE and Plusnet; Chris Philp, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy; and Will Quince, Minister for Children and Young People.

Liverpool FC joined the UK Safer Internet Centre once again for an online event that invited schools to come together to hear the team talk about this year’s theme of ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online.’ Ken Corish led the sessions which saw the team’s mascot Mighty Red showing everyone round Anfield Stadium, as well as some short ProjectEVOLVE sessions talking about purchasing online and positivity online.

The Welsh Government announced the winners of their Safer Internet Day 2022 Film Competition. Well done to the Primary age category winner Ysgol Dyffryn Cledlyn, and the Secondary age category winner Ysgol Tŷ Coch.

The Impact of Safer Internet Day

We know that Safer Internet Day can have a hugely positive impact. As a result of the collective action last year, we reached 51% of UK children and 38% of UK parents, with the majority going on to speak with their families about staying safe online and feeling more confident about what to do about any worries online.

As we compile the numbers, it’s too early to say how many we have reached this year, but we do know that together we will have achieved a real difference to the digital lives of children right across the UK.

From the many conversations, activities and events that have been taking place both online and in person, it’s clear that the day was such a success because of the collaborative efforts of everyone who came together to help create a better internet.

Creating a respectful and positive internet for children and young people is essential and we hope that the momentum of Safer Internet Day will help us in our collaboration to make this happen. Thank you to everyone for taking part and helping to make a better internet.

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