GDST launches family e-safety campaign

Put yourself in your children’s shoes to support young people online, says head of leading girls’ school group

The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), in partnership with Digital Awareness UK (DAUK) has announced a new campaign to encourage parents and their children to talk openly about how to stay safe online. 

Launching in June 2016, ‘Live My Digital’ is a series of six short films for parents and six matching films for children, designed to encourage an open and honest dialogue about appropriate behaviour online by introducing key ideas and suggesting questions for discussion. 

Parents must feel empowered to talk to their children about their lives online – Helen Fraser, CEO of GDST 

The films, the first with tailored content for adults and children, will look at the ways that technology can be used positively by young people as well as potential issues, introducing six themes:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Relationships and grooming
  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • The digital footprint
  • Privacy and security

Focusing particularly on the needs and behaviours of girls online, they will also explore recent digital trends such as FOMO (fear of missing out) and hacktivism.

Helen Fraser, Chief Executive of GDST, said: “Rather than shy away from online safety or taking a ‘block and ban’ approach, we are encouraging parents to put themselves in their children’s shoes to gain a greater understanding of their online lives. For many parents, today’s digital landscape is a world away from their own childhoods but none of us can afford to bury our heads in the sand when it comes to e-safety. Practical guidance like the video series we are launching in June will help empower parents and carers to talk openly to their children about how they use the internet and any concerns they might have.”

At Howell’s School in Llandaff, e-safety is the responsibility of everyone, from students, teachers and support staff to governors, parents and carers, and their approach to training demonstrates this.

Cathy Darnton, Head of Digital Learning at the school, said: “Regular training and events help ensure e-safety is a priority for all digital users. As well as sessions for staff and students, a bi-annual e-safety training event is offered for all parents and carers which combines school expertise and external agents, most recently the NSPCC. The format of the evening is relaxed, informative and encourages parents and carers to talk to each other about their concerns. The message is simple – talk to your child, find out what interests them online and keep communication channels open.”  

Charlotte Robertson, Co-Founder of Digital Awareness UK, said: “The opportunities that technology affords young people should be celebrated. Live My Digital has a perfect balance of empowering messages, complemented by clear, actionable solutions. The videos address young people’s needs from an emotional and physical standpoint, as well as the need for parents to feel in-the-know. From the work we do in schools every day, we know that there is huge demand for this sort of content.”  

In addition to creating online safety content, Digital Awareness UK has a team of hackers, developers, YouTubers and bloggers delivering interactive workshops to students, parents and teachers. 

These insights have been used to inform the video content, which will be free to download once it is launched in June.