Ask, listen and involve young people more in their Digital and Online Safety Education.

That’s the message from a multi-stakeholder Summit organised by WISE KIDS on the 30th of Jan 2017 in Cardiff.The Summit, held in part to support European Safer Internet Day on the 7th of February 2017, featured experts and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds including education, psychology, mental health and industry. It also brought together more than 200 people – educators, youth workers, academics, policy makers, families and others to share evidence, ideas and good practice to promote Children and Young People’s Digital Competence, Digital Citizenship and Wellbeing.

More than 30 children and young people were involved throughout the day – in a drama performance, in presentations, panel sessions and as social media reporters interviewing speakers and delegates. In one of the key highlights of the day, ten pupils from Ysgol Preseli delivered a drama performance showcasing the very positive role that digital and online media plays in their day to day lives, as well as some of the challenges young people face when these technologies are misused.

The pupils also played a leading role in panel sessions – highlighting just how important the Internet is in their lives, as digital citizens. Maisie Thompson, one of the panellists from Ysgol y Preseli says:

“I used to live in Kuwait with my family, and have many friends from other cultures. Now I live on a farm in west Wales, where the Internet is really essential to helping me keep links with other people and cultures. Nothing moves faster than technology and it is a big part of our lives. Adults and education need to keep up with this, and one way is to involve young people more in how technology is used in the classroom.”

The Summit addressed a wide range of themes, from research on screen time and wellbeing, to practical ideas to implement Digital Citizenship in the classroom to self-harm and ‘digital resilience’ for vulnerable young people. Delegates took away a variety of insights.

A central point made by delegates was the need to listen to and involve young people more centrally in lessons and workshops on safety as well as positive use of technology. Delegates also gained inspiration from listening to the children and young people in the panel sessions. “I had no idea – children and young people are far more aware and able than I realised,” says one delegate.

The Summit also builds on findings from the Generation 2000 research undertaken by WISE KIDS with more than two thousand 13 and 14 year olds across Wales which provided baseline data on their experiences, skills and resilience in relation to their use of online technologies.

Dr Sangeet Bhullar, founder of WISE KIDS and host of the Summit says:

“It is absolutely essential that we keep listening and learning. We are very grateful to our main sponsor the University of Wales Trinity St David, and all our supporters who have made this Summit possible. The world of business and education is being transformed by online technologies and professionals and young people must not be left behind. This Summit has helped debunk myths, and inspire educators, parents/carers and other professionals rethink how they engage with children and young people when promoting their digital competence and wellbeing.”

“We are also delighted to announce that we are making available videos from all the main presentation and panel sessions from the Summit. These will be available on our website and YouTube Channel.”