When it comes to e-safety, many teenagers say they know how to behave safely online, but choose not to. DigitalMe believes a special approach is required to encourage them to actually apply their knowledge and practice safe social networking at all times.
Building on the success of its primary school social media and e-safety programme, not-for-profit organisation DigitalMe has created a new course targeted at developing teenager’s online wellbeing, online reputation and career skills.
A positive digital footprint
The Safe Secondary project is groundbreaking in using peer education to instil responsible social networking. It gains from the achievements of Safe Primary, the acclaimed programme where younger children learn to safely enjoy social networking – but uses an entirely new model to meet the very different needs of older children.
By taking a new approach to helping young people learn about social networking and online wellbeing and how to apply the skills they have learnt to solve real-world problems, DigitalMe hopes to encourage teenagers to develop a positive digital footprint.
Older pupils as educators
Project organisers found that pupils in Year 9 and above (aged 13+) perceive themselves to be much older than pupils just starting secondary school, and that younger pupils look up to their older peers. Safe Secondary uses this ‘social cachet’ of older pupils by turning them into educators, working with and inspiring younger pupils.
In doing this, the older children are motivated to act responsibly online. And they use their skills, knowledge and status to peer-educate younger children about the skills required to stay safe and thrive online. Younger pupils, meanwhile, benefit from increased e-safety awareness and the reinforcement of good practice.
Enhancing skills and reputations
The whole process promotes collaboration and support and deters negative social media behaviour. However, Safe Secondary offers more than just e-safety awareness. Because older pupils starting to think about careers will also benefit from advice on managing their online reputation in the months and years ahead.
The programme aims to show young people how social technology skills can be a career-enhancing tool. Going forward, DigitalMe also plans to link with business to set online commissions, which will help enhance young people’s workplace skills.