"The course content is great. It covers everything that students need to understand and was everything I expected and more. The workshops were fun I could see that the students got a lot out them."
Students from Stockport Academy and Werneth School have been learning essential digital life skills thanks to a series of workshops run by Cheshire-based not-for-profit organisation, Digital Resilience.
The Big Lottery-funded programme supports children and young people to feel more digitally empowered to deal with challenges that are emerging from society’s increasing online engagement.
Students at both schools ranging from year 7 to year 10 were invited to participate in six workshops exploring themes such as privacy, cyber bullying and the rise of ‘fake news’, to deepen their understanding of the social and emotional implications of online interaction.
The issue of navigating ‘digital wellbeing’ is a growing concern for young people, given that one third of 11-16 year olds report having been targeted, threatened, or humiliated online, according to mental health charity, YoungMinds*.
Young people at the Stockport schools were encouraged to not only think critically about the challenges they are facing online, but to work together to create solutions to deal with them.
Commenting on the theme of online misinformation covered in the workshops, Sam Nagler from Werneth School, said: “In future I will double check the news stories that I look at. Sometimes I look at stories and wonder if they are real, but now I know how to find out if they are real or not.”
Denise Nicholls, deputy designated safeguarding and child protection officer at Stockport Academy, added: “The course content is great. It covers everything that students need to understand and was everything I expected and more. The workshops were fun – I could see that the students got a lot out them and had some really positive, thoughtful discussions about how we use the internet and technology.
Steve Bolland, head of ICT at Werneth School commented: “The programme was fantastic, I couldn’t fault it. The students loved it, and talked about it afterwards, so you know that it sunk in. Every student took something from it that was useful to them. I’d definitely recommend it to other schools.”
The students were so inspired by what they discussed that they’re already putting their own measures in place to embed this understanding in their schools. Werneth School has already appointed ‘digital ambassadors’ who will become advocates within their peer groups for smart and responsible online engagement.
Shelley Metcalfe, director of Digital Resilience, said: “It was great to see the students embrace the workshops with enthusiasm and think critically about the personal, social and emotional aspects of life online. It’s important we equip young people with the skills to tackle digital challenges with confidence and that this is embedded in school culture so that more young people can thrive online.”
*Source - YoungMinds, Resilience for the Digital World (2016)
For more information visit www.digitalresilience.org.uk