The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Safer Internet Day: Tuesday 9 February 2021


CMF Exec Group member Cecilia Weiss attended Safer Internet Day (UK). 

"Around 500 guests attended Safer Internet Day. I was invited on behalf of the Children’s Media Foundation. Here's my summarised report of the event."

Safer Internet Day was presented by Jake Humphrey from the BT Tower with virtual contributors from the industry, government and – most importantly (it’s all about them) – young people from schools across the country.


First contributor: Mark Allera, CEO of BT Consumer Brands: BT, EE and Plusnet

Shared research:
• 61% of parents worry about children’s safety online.
• 83% of parents believe it’s important for their children learn digital skills to help them thrive for their future.
• Less than half of parents know where to access these skills.
• 72% felt the pandemic had made their children even more reliant on technology.

He highlighted BT’s programmes:
Set Up Safe: Making it very easy for EE parents to set up parental controls when buying phone for a child. BT Broadband through Halo, with the ability to pause WiFi on each connected device in the home.
Skills for Tomorrow: In partnership with Internet Matters. Offering parents and children advice on managing online risks. Their ambition is to help 10m people get them get the skills they need to make the most of life in the digital world.
Safer Internet, part of their Barefoot Computing programme. In partnership with Computing at School, launched game to teach children about online scams through play.
Lockdown learning support scheme: In partnership with the DfE. Offering free unlimited data for families and carers who need it most. Schools can also apply for free voucher so that children can access WiFi nationwide. Five million hotspots across the country. They have zero rated Bitesize, Oak Academy so that these can be accessed even without data.

Young people

Children from schools across the country joined in. One and all stressed the importance of a truthful internet.

Being taken in by ‘fake news’ makes them a bit stupid, sad and angry. Not knowing what is true and what is fake can affect both mental and physical life. Which is why a safe internet is so important.


A snapshot of what schools across the country did on Safer Internet Day:

• Recorded videos for assemblies
• Created PowerPoints
• Used Sway to show parents their information
• Created a whole school theme and a wall display in class
• Older children presented an assembly to nursery and infants
• Created T-Shirts
• Made an online quiz for parents
• Created a special assembly for the whole school
• Roblox created a special game to help families and children be safer
• The BBC did a live lesson
• TikTok created a hashtag be safe and happy


Will Gardener, director of UK Safer Internet Centre

Thanked everyone for joining, and for all the hard work of the organisers and contributors. He was proud to say that 170 countries from across the world took part in the campaign. The UK Safer Internet Centre is coordinated by three charities, ChildNet, The Internet Watch Foundation and SWGLF. He then shared their latest research:

Percentage of young people by age who have had friend requests from people they don’t know:
• 48% of 8 year olds
• 57% of 9 year olds
• 61% of 10 year olds
• 58% of 11 year olds
• 70% of 12 year olds
• 62% of 13 year olds
• 64% of 14 year olds
• 63% of 15 year olds
• 73% of 16 year olds
• 68% of 17 year olds

63% of 8-17s felt they were likely to be tricked by various types of misleading online content.
• Sneaky or hidden sponsored ads – 41%
• ‘Clickbait’ – 42%
• Gaming scams – 33%
• Stories online that aren’t true from unofficial sources – 37%
• Stories online that have some truth, but aren’t 100% true – 51%
• Edited and filtered imagery – 42%
• Forwarded ‘fake news’ – 31%
• Chain messages 30%

91% of 8–17s feel, or would feel, annoyed, angry, upset, sad, attacked or scared as a result of being tricked and receiving misleading content online in the following situations:
• Gaming scams – 74%
• ‘Clickbait’ 69%
• Forwarded ‘fake news’ - 63%
• Sneaky or hidden sponsored ads – 63%
• Stories online that aren’t true from unofficial sources – 62%
• Stories online that have some truth, but aren’t 100% true – 59%
• Edited and filtered imagery 51%


Vicki Ford. Parliamentary Under-secretary for Department for Education

Congratulated Safer Internet Day for its achievements. Children are growing up in a complex world. The internet is a positive force but also presents many challenges, one of which is separating fact from fiction. She wants schools to understand how to best use the internet, and help children challenge misinformation. The National Curriculum will provide opportunities for digital skills. The DfE is a keen supporter of this day.

Views from young people

“We need to think of the dangers of search engines.”
“We need to understand what reliable means.”
“There is a huge culture of having standards that you have to meet, half the photos you see online are not what the person actually looks like.”
“Sometimes news can be unreliable because the media favour different parties.”
“Younger people are finding out that not all information is reliable. If they find that too much, they might give up using internet forever, but we need the internet.”


Caroline Dineage, Minister of State for Digital and Culture

Stressed the importance of online safety. Covid-19 has posed new challenges, and the Government’s work to tackle online harms is more important than ever. She believes it is vital to ensure that we have an internet we can trust. The government takes this seriously, which is why online safety has been incorporated into the school curriculum.

Youth Panel Q&A

Question from Supercell: Why do young people rely on the internet so much?
"The internet has been an integral part of life since 5 years old. Spare time is a lot of staring at a screen. It is the main source of content and a place of bonding. Relies on the internet for educational research and for consolidating topics has learnt at school.”

“Inevitable that young people will rely on the internet. Without it, she would not have been able to complete education. It helps her to remain grounded and sense of normality at such uncertain times.”

Question from TikTok: Have you ever fallen for misleading information and if so, how did you approach it?
“Yes. But now knows how to avoid it. Checks information against trusted sources like the BBC or Google. Everyone must be more careful than ever. The internet should be a safe place for all.”

“Not so much anymore. Previous weakness was seeing society’s version of what was perfect. It took a lot to realise that you don’t have to have perfect skin, perfect hair, to have value and be accepted in the online word.

Question from Jake: What is your advice to parents?
“Explain it to children in simple form so that they understand. The earlier the better.”

“Monitor what young children are seeing on internet.”

“It’s really important for parents to create a safe space for children to ask, ‘is this real or fake’.”

“It’s awful to realise that you were lied to and you passed it on. It never gets easier but when you get older it becomes easier to amend. If you’ve shared it, you can see who viewed and can go back and say it wasn’t true.”

Question from Snap: How does misleading information impact your opinion of the internet?
“Influencers have big platform, and sometimes their messages are not good, like saying travelling is OK when it’s they’re not.”

“Once it is out, it will always be there. Everyone knows at least one celebrity who has given misleading information on social media. Influencers and celebrities mislead by saying they’re giving things away, when in fact they’re being paid for every click. People are being take advantage by people they admire.”

Question from Roblox: What do you want the government and the internet to do to combat the spread of unreliable content?
“Accessibility of reporting. Reassuring people that reporting has no impact on them individually. Making sure that users are updated with status of their report. Many don’t bother as they think nothing will happen. Disparity between the treatment of a ‘small person’ and famous people. Would like to see universal guidelines.”

“We have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable and susceptible. Distinguish between what is necessary and what is moral. Many share views online, but we have a duty not to influence views or cause danger. Sharing false reports on the pandemic could encourage to go out and put people at risk. The government should put people before press and profit.”

What the grown-ups should do...

Parents: Be there for your kids all the time. Understand that social media is normal and that they are capable of being safe.

Teachers: Remind us of the dangers of being online. Stay up to date. Focus on online safety, which website or Apps are safe. How to deal with private messages

Gaming industry: Clarify who the players are. Identify who made the game to make sure people who speak about it are trustworthy and telling the truth about the game.

Media: Balance the way you they present information and focus more on people than on the government.

Entertainment and streaming: Bring more educational content so that viewers are more enlightened in their life.

Social Media companies: Take more responsibility for the reliability of your platforms. At the end of the day, you are making money out of your service, like any company. So you should amend problems and and ensure it is safe.

Government: More rules on the tech industry to make the internet more reliable. Politicians should take steps to make people matter. Use your power and make good examples, because an amazing example will make an amazing future.

CMF strongly supports the rights of young people to be heard.

Safer Internet Day continued all day long across the country. The work will continue beyond the day. For the rest of the year. And beyond.

Watch the full Safer Internet Day YouTube video.

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)