Looking at the success of Safer Internet Day 2023
Will Gardner OBE, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, reflects on the huge success of Safer Internet Day 2023.
The 7th February saw the celebration of Safer Internet Day across the world. 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.
The theme for this year’s Safer Internet Day in the UK was ‘Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online’. The campaign saw so many come together to help inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.
Over 5,000 organisations across the UK delivered activities for the day, including schools, police forces, government, companies, football clubs, charities and others – more than ever before!
Throughout the day it was wonderful to see the impact of Safer Internet Day on social media. On Twitter, the #SaferInternetDay hashtag trended at number one across the UK throughout the day. From reading storybooks, to creating their own designs and social media templates, we saw people engage with the campaign in a vast array of creative and imaginative ways.
The message at the heart of all these resources was about the way that young people can advocate for online safety education and support, that is reflective of their own experiences online.
Young people’s experiences highlighted across the UK
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 which revealed more than half (57%) of young people believe they can help educate parents or carers on internet harms. This response comes as more than three quarters (77%) of children and young people say their parents regularly talk to them about their online lives. Alongside this, over a third (36%) of parents, and carers admit they’re not certain where to turn should they need support or access to resources when it comes to online safety.
Throughout the day, there were youth events across the UK which helped ensure that the day really reflected the voice of young people. Young people spoke to 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.
Events run by the UKSIC across the UK included:
- In London young people from both primary and secondary schools ran activities and took part in for panel discussions around their experiences online and the changes they want to see. The event was watched by over 400 guests.
- At Anfield, home to Liverpool Football Club over 200 young people from schools across the city took part in an event including an assembly, workshops focusing on consent online, stadium tours and meeting Mighty Red, the LFC mascot. This event was also attended by Liverpool legend John Barnes, who spoke to us about the importance of online safety.
- At Westminster a group of young people from the Childnet Digital Leaders Programme and Youth Advisory Board were joined by MP’s to share their wishes for how a safer and more supportive internet can be achieved.
Safer Internet Day in the Media
Safer Internet Day was profiled on national TV and radio, including interviews with our Digital Champions, Cosima and Lauren. These interviews, including those on the BBC and in the Independent, had a large reach on the day and allowed us to get youth voice heard on a wider scale.
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 over half of UK children and almost a third of UK parents and carers, with the majority going on to speak to 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, 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.