The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Safer internet Day UK – 2023

Safer Internet Day began as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004, and was taken up by the Insafe Network in 2005. It is now celebrated in approximately 170 countries.

In the UK, Safer Internet Day is coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre (a partnership between Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning), and is now a landmark in the online safety calendar. As of last year, the event no longer receives EU funding, but a variety of organisations stepped up to support :

Nominet (key sponsor); Apple; DCMS; Supercell; Amazon, Discord, Meta, Roblox, Twitter, Vodafone.

Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and current concerns. The theme for Safer Internet Day 2023 was, "Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online." To celebrate this, young people's voices were at its heart. The Safer Internet Day Virtual Event took place on Tuesday 7 February. Schools across the country also took part in a variety of events, and some of their initiatives were featured in the virtual conference.

Here's a summary...

Want to talk about it? Making Space for Conversations about Life Online

Hosted by UK Safer Internet Youth Representatives, Aimee and Dominik, young people were firmly at front and centre of the day's events. They are identified only by their first names in this account.

Thomas, the keynote speaker and a member of the Childnet Youth Advisory Board, introduced the event. 
Aimee Interviewed Will Gardner, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet.
Some stats:

  • 67% parents who knew about Safer Internet Day speak to their children about online activity.
  • 40+% of children say they talk to parents.
  • 69% parents speak to children at least once a week about online.

This shows that children can lead the conversation. Safer Internet Day helps them have confidence to that.

Schools have a part to play.

  • 71% children said online lessons helped them navigate better.
  • 44% felt they could make a difference in promoting safety.
  • 41% feel they have responsibility to report. Previously, it was only 25%.

Seeing bad things online has been normalised. Children can find the reporting process overwhelming, or they may worry about getting into trouble. So they just ignore them. Safer Internet Day encourages open conversations and helps prevent children feeling isolated.

From assemblies to treasure hunts, from parent sessions to digital leaders workshops, from competitions to surveys, schools across the country have embraced the day. One school in Inverness created an internet safety podcast, and a school in Somerset ran a Safer Internet Café.

Childnet Digital Champion, Indira Hosted the Primary Youth Panel.


  • Homework online.
  • Can look up answers in a stress-free zone.
  • Playing with friends
  • Watching movies.


  • Children might click on a link without reading it and could click on a scam.
  • Greatest danger for young people is seeing something scary that stays in the back of your head.
  • Greatest danger for older people are scams.
  • Cyber bullying.

Whose responsibility is it to make sure internet is safe and happy?
If it’s serious, it’s the adult.

Who would you go to if you had concerns?
If at home, parents or older siblings. But if it was outside, probably a teacher, or maybe a Year 6 Digital Leader. But parents don’t really know everything about online safety. If you’re aged 11 or 12 and above, you’ll probably know much more than your parents.

Their advice to parents: Be calm and gentle. Give the child a snack to calm them down. If it’s overwhelming, stop the conversation and go back later.

What would you tell the Prime Minister about life online?

  • He could add more security to the apps kids play.
  • It should be easy to find stuff that is suitable for your own age.
  • Games need more age-restrictions and security.
  • Social media needs more age-restrictions and security.
  • The government should tell parents to respect the rules
  • The government could fund internet charities and make England the best country for internet. Then other countries could copy, so the internet could be safe everywhere.

Interview by Childnet Digital Champion, Cosima with Paul Scully, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy

How is the government making sure that young people’s voices are heard in terms of internet reform?
Paul Scully: Child safety is at the core of the Online Safety Bill.

The Internet is ever-changing: What measures are in place in the Bill to ensure longevity?
The bill is not tech specific so that it can adapt to future tech.

Social comparison has a very negative impact. How are you raising awareness?
It is very important to get education right. The media literacy programme is working with big tech platforms to go into schools and educate. Spotting misinformation is a major part of media literacy. And reminding young people that social media is not reflective of the real world.

Childnet Digital Champion, Indira Hosted the Secondary Youth Panel.


  • Can come back from a long day at school, relax and communicate with friends.
  • Communication with friends is so important.
  • Keeping in touch with people who have the same interests.


  • Lifestyle: it’s very hard to stay away from social media influencers who push you to certain ways.
  • The Internet is too unfiltered. Any young person can find harmful content.
  • Filtered or edited photos can make you feel inferior - which effects mental health.
  • Crypto and financial scams: the responsibility to sort these should be on companies and government.
  • Age verification is really important, although it is too easy to fake.
  • Reporting is important, shouldn’t be left to AI and bots. Needs more ‘real people’.

How can we help parents learn?
Start talking about online when children are young, to build a good bond on online issues and trust. Don’t jump straight to punishment (like taking away phone), as children may not then talk about issues at all. Be willing to listen! All young people want to be supported.

What changes would you like to see at national level?

  • The government should enforce more training to education for online safety.
  • It’s really important to talk about online safety and cyber bullying.
  • School teachers are not always qualified in teaching about the internet. Let the kids lead!
  • The responsibility for good practice lies with Industry, above that the government. And then parents/carers.

Thomas, the keynote speaker wrapped up the event.

  • We want this to be the start of something big, influencing conversations all year round.
  • Young people up and down country deserve to be involved in these discussions.
  • It’s so important to listen all young people. They have the right to have opinions heard.
  • Every generation has own experience of what it is to be young. This generation, it is shaped by social media, and the apps and games we play.

Thomas summarised the young digital champions’ requests:

  • More settings to restrict screentime.
  • The industry needs to be more cautious with data sharing.
  • The industry needs to be stronger on age restrictions.
  • Internet users should take a stronger stance to prevent cyber bulling.
  • Internet companies should protect users if they are hacked.
  • Settings and laws should be in place to prevent catfishing.
  • Stop sharing fake news and misinformation.
  • Companies and businesses should be more aware of counter-culture.
  • The industry needs to tackle the unrealistic expectations of body image fuelled by social media, which is so detrimental to mental health.

Young people deserve and want the right to be involved in the conversation. Young people want action and change.

Internet Safety Day made space for conversations about life online. May that conversation continue!

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