Promoting Digital Wellbeing by Encouraging Positive Online Behaviour
Pre-lockdown, The Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying team travelled the UK delivering Anti-Bullying Ambassador training to young people and staff in schools. As we have moved towards working from home, our anti-bullying experts have been creating more online resources and training to help young people, school staff, educators and parents respond to the challenges they’re facing during this global pandemic. Our mission is to foster, develop and inspire positive change in the lives of young people and, now more than ever, it’s important that we continue to support young people to maintain their digital wellbeing through engaging in positive online behaviours.
As ever, our approach is peer-led, meaning we encourage young people to teach their peers the values of kindness and respect and the importance of being an ‘Upstander’ when they witness harmful behaviour on or offline. These positive behaviours help strengthen their own digital wellbeing and the wellbeing of other young people.
Staff leads play a huge part in supporting our Anti-Bullying Ambassadors to make their projects come to life and to have a wide impact with their anti-bullying campaigns. Staff also play a pivotal role in guiding the messages that Anti-Bullying Ambassadors promote to their peers.
Here are some of our key messages and handy resources that you can share with your students to encourage them to exhibit positive behaviour online and protect their digital wellbeing:
Tip 1 – Act as an Upstander Online
At the heart of our training is empowering young people to take responsibility for creating positive change by choosing to be an upstander when they witness cyberbullying and harmful online behaviour. Being an upstander means taking action when you see bullying behaviour and spreading positive content and messages when online. If the young person feels safe, it can be valuable to reach out to someone privately to express your concern about their words or behaviour online. Gently helping other people to understand the impact of their words can have a profound effect on their future behaviour.
Tip 2 – Always Remember to Screenshot, Report & Block
Young people should be armed with knowledge on how to block and report bullying behaviour online, which can act as a tool that allows them to challenge harmful behaviour without putting themselves at any risk. When faced with cyberbullying behaviour, they should screenshot for evidence, report the post or user and block them to prevent further incidents. These steps can be promoted through poster campaigns, workshops and lessons on online safety.
Tip 3 – Remember to be aware, suspicious, curious and honest
Being aware, suspicious, curious and honest will help a young person to identify fake news, which has the potential to trigger anxiety or misplaced anger. Using these tools can help to stop cyberbullying behaviour like repeatedly saying hurtful things about someone in a fake news story. It will also be useful when witnessing cyberbullying behaviours such as spreading rumours and denigration. Teaching this approach to young people can strengthen their critical thinking skills as they navigate the online world and encourage them to make positive choices about how they use their own online platforms.
Tip 4 – Maintain a Whole School Approach
We know from our experience in schools that, in order to be successful in promoting positive online behaviour to young people, a whole school approach is essential. Our young Anti-Bullying Ambassadors play a key role in providing education on digital wellbeing and online safety to everyone in their school community, including all staff, students and parents/carers. Educate your students about how to have a positive online experience and ensure the whole school community is aware of tools to support this such as blocking and reporting cyberbullying behaviour. Several of our resources encourage young people to deliver lessons and presentations to their peers, school staff and families, ensuring that different groups have the knowledge and confidence to be upstanders against cyberbullying behaviour.
Tip 5 – Create a Positive Online World
Teach young people to create an online space that brings positive energy into their lives. They should take note of the emotions they experience when using certain apps or viewing specific users’ content. Unfollow negative sources and follow accounts on social media who make you feel inspired, happy and peaceful. Tools on social media apps such as muting accounts on Instagram can help create this positive space. If you find that online spaces become negative when you spend too long online, turning off notifications or enabling reminders that tell you when you’ve been on an app for a long time can be useful. Finding like-minded people who are positive influences on online platforms will transform the experience. Our online safety resources educate young people and staff on the tools available on online platforms to create a positive space.
A range of resources to support the Anti-Bullying Ambassador programme can be found here: https://www.antibullyingpro.com/resources
To register your school’s interest to attend our one-day Anti-Bullying Ambassador training once schools reopen, head to: https://diana-award.org.uk/anti-bullying-training/