Lower school pupils learn about internet safety
Date Added: 18/01/2017
More than 1,500 lower school pupils across Central Bedfordshire will watch a play about internet safety over the next two weeks.
In the Net is being performed at 19 lower and primary schools between Monday, 16 January and Friday, 26 January.
The play, by Alter Ego, is aimed at Year 3 and 4 pupils and was developed in response to a growing need to make children aware of internet safety and the real-world effects of cyber bullying.
It tells the tale of Dotty (played by Charlie Raine), who is making the most of the new iPad she’s received for her birthday. However, she’s not being safe online, instead chatting to people she doesn’t know, posting personal information and making unkind comments about another girl from her school.
That reckless behaviour leads to be being pulled ‘In the Net’ and meeting various different characters (played by Lindsey Huebner and Rhys Jones). In order to escape the world behind her iPad screen and return home, she has to go on a quest to learn how to be safer online.
In the Net is by the same theatre group which has performed child sexual exploitation awareness play Chelsea’s Choice to pupils here over the past two years. In that time, around 8,500 pupils in Years 8-14 have seen that hard-hitting production.
Councillor Steven Dixon, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “Using the internet and social media is second nature to children these days. However, it’s vital that they do so safely and that’s why plays like this are so important.
“Even if every child takes just one thing from seeing the play, such as not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, then that’s a start in helping to keep them safe online.
“Children should never be afraid to seek advice from their parents or teachers about subjects like this.”
Cranfield Academy was one of the first schools to host a performance, with 120 Year 3-4 pupils watching the play today.
Joanna Farbon, Headteacher of the school, said: “We are delighted to have been able to welcome Alter Ego to Cranfield today. The production is further extending the work we have done to achieve the 360 degree safe e-safety accreditation we have already received.
“Our work ensuring children are using the internet safely is woven in to all that we do at Cranfield and the production about Dotty is an excellent way to bring internet safety to life.”
Sienna and Harry were among the pupils at Cranfield Academy to see today’s performance.
Sienna said: “It was really good and really funny. The best bit for me was about if you see something you don’t like then to close down the screen and tell an adult.”
Harry said: “I do use the internet at home. My favourite part was the seven questions at the end. That was a really useful reminder of everything that we had seen.”
Cast member Rhys, who plays Virus, has been involved with Alter Ego since 2010. In that time he has performed both Chelsea’s Choice and In the Net.
He said: “The difference with In the Net is that you finish with a smile on your face. It’s not about anything particularly new, more consolidating what the children should know already. Hopefully schools will follow up what the children have seen.
“It started last year with a four-week run in Gloucestershire and has been gradually been picking up momentum. You have to remember that Chelsea’s Choice started quite slowly and is now a huge success. We’re doing this tour until 19 May including two weeks in Bedfordshire.”
Fellow performer Charlie has been involved with Alter Ego for the past 12 months, playing the title character in Chelsea’s Choice last year.
She said: “In the Net is a show for Key Stage 2 children and it’s basically online about safety, who you are talking to online and about protecting your identity. It’s about children knowing who to go to if they have any concerns.”
For more information about staying safe online, visit www.bedfordshireagainstcse.org/keeping-yourself-safe