Looking at exploring some of the themes surrounding staying safe online and cyber security with young people? Here are some of my favourite go to resources and activities to bring this topic to life 👇
Every year Safer Internet Day is celebrated around the world with the goal of encouraging people in different roles and capacities to start conversations with young people about how they use the internet, promoting the safe and positive use of digital technology. This year Safer Internet Day is taking place on Tuesday 8th February and this year's theme is All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online, encouraging groups to consider the ways we use the internet to relax, play and keep in touch with friends and family. You can read more about the great work that UK Safer Internet Centre do and hear about some of the events happening around the world to champion using digital tech responsibly here. UK Safer Internet Centre also have loads of resources and articles on there to help you brush up on your knowledge, ready for discussions with young people!
Now let's be honest, sometimes talking with young people about staying safe online can be a little dry and may involve young people rolling their eyes and thinking that something bad online wouldn't happen to them. Safer Internet Day is a fab opportunity to open these conversations with young people through introducing them to different projects, websites and activities that show them the different ways that we can use technology responsibly or highlight to them how easy it is for different people to gather data about us and what that might be used for.
Even if your activity doesn't directly link to this year's theme, that doesn't matter, what is important is getting young people to start thinking about how they use the internet and I've collected some activities to help you do just that, hopefully bringing the topic to life for them at the same time!
Here we go...
Idea #1 - Interland by Google
Google have a fantastic suite of resources for all things digital skills but I've been particularly impressed with the activities that they have available for talking about internet safety, encouraging everyone to be internet awesome.
Interland is a free online adventure game with a focus on digital safety and citizenship. As young people play and explore the different islands in the game, they learn about the different approaches they can take to stay safe and develop attitudes to using the web responsibly. It's completely free to play and you even get a certificate once you have completed the game!
Idea #2 - CyberSecurity Lab by Nova Labs
Sticking with the theme of interactive activities, this game created by NOVA Labs lets young people explore the threat of cybersecurity attacks as they set up their own social media company and work to protect it against the cyber attacks looking into topics such as passwords and hacking. A great resource to start the conversation with young people about what we can do to stay safe online and protect our data.
NOVA Labs have many more resources available for free on their website from quizzes to videos from cybersecurity experts, highlighting some of the careers out there in this part of the sector.
Idea #3 - Explore Digital Footprints
And another resource from Google has made it onto my list - what can I say, they have so many cool activities and ideas that are available for free and most of them are ready to pick up and use straight away with young people!
A digital footprint is the information collected about you that exists on the internet as a result of your online activity. In this activity from the Google for Education Applied Digital Skills course, young people are introduced to digital footprints by recoding their online actions in a spreadsheet to visualise what their own digital footprint might look like.
Understanding that what we put out onto the web is out there for everyone to see is really important, especially for young people who are starting to use social media for the first time or for anyone looking at applying to further education or work as it's not uncommon for employers to have a quick search for you online!
Idea #4 - Secret Messages
Whenever I'm at a loose end for thinking of some new and exciting projects to try out with young people in classes or code clubs, my go to for inspiration is always the Raspberry Pi Foundation. There are project tutorials for all levels using lots of different platforms from Scratch to Python and web development with HTML. The way they are presented online means that I can usually direct young people straight to the tutorial and we can work through it together, making my preparation so simple!
In these tutorials, young people explore the topic of encryption - a way of scrambling data and messages so that only the intended audience can read and understand them. These activities let young people explore what goes on behind the scenes when our messages are sent on applications like WhatsApp where they are encrypted before they are sent to the recipient. This topic connects nicely with Safer Internet Day as you can start discussions with groups about why we need to encrypt messages or data, possibly starting to think about other ways that our data is kept protected by technology.
I've actually listed two tutorials from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, both looking at simple encryption with Python,
If you're interested in exploring the topic of secret messages and encryption with young people but your maybe not ready to step into Python programming, you can follow this lesson created by code.org,
Idea #5 - CyberSprinters by NCSC
I had to include this addictive game from the National Cyber Security Centre called CyberSprinters which is similar to maze runner but the obstacles in the way of the player are questions and challenges that teach young people about the decisions they can make to stay safe online and use technology responsibly. Covering topics such as passwords, protecting your devices and how to handle suspicious messages, this game is a great starter for introducing the topic of internet safety.
Idea #6 - Cyber Skills Lessons
I love any resource that is interactive and lets young people get a feel for what happens behind the scenes in some real-world systems and applications and I think these cyber skills lesson do just that. Not only do the team behind these resources quite frequently deliver live online lessons for classrooms to get involved in but there are lots of resources available online that you can access and try out with young people at any time.
I've listed 3 of these interactive resources that have brilliant links to exploring cyber security by letting young people experience the kind of things that cyber criminals might do to steal your password or details and how we can use technology to investigate things like photos to capture hidden information about these cyber criminals.
Each one is perfect for exploring and building on digital skills with young people whilst keeping the conversation going about how we can protect our data and information online (and did I mention they are lots of fun? I guarantee your groups will love trying these activities out!)
Idea #7 - Password Generators
Another project from the Raspberry Pi Foundation (I told you I'm obsessed with their resources) where young people use their Python programming skills to create a program that generates secure passwords.
Not only do young people get to develop their Python skills, it's also a great opportunity to chat about what makes a good and secure password that can link into many other resources that have been mentioned in this post.
Idea #8 - Internet Safety Quiz
Who doesn't love a good quiz? Whether young people are taking part individually or break into teams, there are so many resources out there that you can use to create your own quiz to crown the champions of internet safety in your group!
I've got two examples here, one by the NSPCC which has some fantastic examples of questions that I think young people would really enjoy trying to work through together. The second is an internet safety Kahoot that I found in the community section of the website. I know my groups go crazy when I mention the word Kahoot and it's one way that I can get everyone excited about just about any topic but it also gives me a chance to get a feel for what topics or concepts that maybe aren't yet clicking or making sense for everyone.