Use internet for good, Amber Rudd tells local teenagers

TEENAGERS in Hastings should use social media to learn how to spot fake news and report hateful online comments.

Local MP Amber Rudd hosted Google at Hastings Academy today as part of their Be Internet Citizens programme.

This programme helps 13 to 15-year-olds and is designed to teach them about media literacy, critical thinking and digital citizenship.

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings & Rye said:

“I was pleased to meet so many young students to talk about how they use the internet and most importantly how they stay safe online.

”It is important that our approach to the internet supports freedom online, while protecting people, particularly children from harm.

“The internet provides access to a world of new information and points of view, but it also exposes young people to very real harms.

“It was great to meet with representatives from Google and the students to discuss how they can best protect themselves and others whilst enjoying all of the amazing opportunities the internet gives us.”

Be Internet Citizens consists of five key stages, which students in Hastings were taught today:

1. Three sides to Every Story - Participants will be able to develop a good understanding of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, as well as becoming more confident in forming their own opinions in online contexts.

2. Emotional Manipulation - This stage presents video examples of emotional manipulation, prompting a discussion around what emotions these videos stimulate. It seeks to develop an increased critical awareness of the use of emotional manipulation.

3. Us vs Them - Enables participants to understand how powerful ‘us vs them’ divisions can be, encouraging them to think of where they have seen this rhetoric used before online. Participants will understand how divisive arguments can lead to problems in society, as well as be wary of the consequences of labelling individuals and also understand how certain online social environments can shape opinions.

4. Haters Gonna Hate - Designed to help participants understand what acceptable and unacceptable online behaviour is, and how to distinguish between hate speech and free speech. In addition, it explores how to react to hateful content online, including the use of various online tools such as reporting, flagging and blocking.

5. Creators For Change - a creative video exercise that allows participants to showcase their learning across the previous four lessons, and offers them the opportunity to get creative through using video equipment.

Be Internet Citizens is delivered in partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and it’s teaching resources are approved by the PSHE Association. Educators can also order free teaching resources for the Be Internet Citizens here (through the ISD website). These resources are accredited by PSHE.

ISD CEO Sasha Havlicek said: “We’re incredibly excited to be working with Google to scale Internet Citizens in 2019. As online spaces play an increasingly vital role in our social, cultural and political lives, it is vital young people feel confident to make their voices heard, stay safe and play a positive role as digital citizens.”

Elijah Lawal, online safety communications manager at Google said: “The internet is a creative space where young people can have a voice, be imaginative, and express themselves. With Be Internet Citizens, we want to help young people with their media literacy and encourage them to use their voices and creativity to have a positive impact online.”