New resource encouraging positive use of tech targets teenagers

Safer Internet Day sees launch of free digital media literacy resource

Queen Letizia of Spain chats with children attending a Safer Internet Day event t the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.

A new digital resource aimed at supporting younger internet users to use technology in a positive way has been unveiled.

Connected, which was developed by Webwise with support from experts in online safety, educationand media literacy, promotes awareness and empowers young people to engage with technology in a safe and responsible way. Designed for Junior Cycle, it tackles topics such as online wellbeing, privacy, big data and false information to help students develop key digital media literacy skills.

Webwise, which is part of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), published the new resource to coincide with Safer Internet Day, which takes place on February 11th each year.

“Digital media is rapidly changing and continues to provide new opportunities for young people to engage, connect, create and learn,” said National Director of PDST, Ciara O’Donnell. “It is vital for young people to develop digital skills and an understanding of how these new technologies work.”


Speaking at the launch, Professor Brian O’Neill, Director of Research at TU Dublin said online safety was more than just privacy settings.

“It’s about being digital media smart, and to be smart requires learning and awareness,” he saqid. “There are huge benefits to the internet. Equipping our future generations to grasp and enjoy these benefits involves investing in their capabilities. Comprehensive, curriculum-based programmes are essential in giving young people the knowledge and skills to be resilient online citizens.”

Second level schools will receive a free copy of the Connected programme pack and user guide, which is available to download from

Webwise has also trained 100 student ambassadors from second-level schools to lead online safety events in their own school community.

“The Webwise Safer Internet Ambassador Programme has proved to be an effective tool in achieving an active involvement of students in anti-bullying prevention and internet safety through building a positive school climate,” said Ms O’Donnell.

Safer Internet Day was established in 2004, and is an EU initiative aimed at promoting a safer internet for all users. It is now marked by 150 countries. The theme for this year’s campaign is “Together for a better internet”.

It is supported by a number of industry figures, including Twitter Ireland, which hosted the Websise event. Speaking at the event, Twitter Ireland's managing director Sinead McSweeney, outlined the steps the company has taken to try to tackle the problem of abuse on its platform, including using technology to proactively seek out potentially abusive contact rather than relying on reports from users; an increase in accounts locked or suspended for violating the Twitter Rules; and the option to hide replies to tweets.

Twitter is also implementing a new rule that will address synthetic and manipulated media, labelling tweets believed to contain media that has been significantly and deceptively altered or fabricated. “It’s a long road, and we’ll never be done” she said.

Virgin Media, which also hosted a panel discussion to highlight issues such as digital footprint, staying safe online, age appropriateness and the importance of privacy online. Among the participants were former Love Island star Yewande Biala, who spoke about overcoming negativity online following her appearance on last year's series of Love Island. Also on the panel was Áine Lynch from the National Parents Council, and Prof O'Neill.

“Safer Internet Day is an opportunity for everyone to re-examine how they interact with the internet, and ensure they are taking appropriate steps to ensure privacy and security online,” Ms Lynch said.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist