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Webwise reports 25% increase in use of its resources by schools and parents as new resources launched for younger pupils

Html Heroes – An Introduction to the Internet launched to mark Safer Internet Day

Webwise, the internet safety initiative of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), a support service of the Department of Education and Skills, has seen a 25% rise in the use of its resources and supports since publication of the Action Plan for Online Safety by Government last July.

Its newest resource HTML Heroes introduces 3rd and 4th class pupils to the internet with the help of two USB characters (Archie and Ruby) who come to life when the classroom empties at break-time and perform catchy internet safety raps. The animations and supporting lessons are being launched as part of Webwise’s work to raise awareness of Safer Internet Day 2019, Tuesday, 5th February 2019 and to promote the importance of online safety with parents, teachers and young people.

The resource will support primary school teachers and young people as they learn about safe and responsible use of the internet.

The HTML Heroes Programme comprises of eight lessons and three specially designed animations for use in the classroom. The resource introduces students to the internet, explains how it works and addresses key online safety topics including privacy, cyberbullying and evaluating information online. The resource also addresses growing concerns about technology and the use of devices such as screen time, online gaming, online advertising and social media.

The education resource will be free for all schools to access from February 5th 2019 via All primary schools will receive a free HTML Heroes pack and user guide, the HTML Heroes animations and information on hosting parent talks in schools. Webwise’s new online internet safety programme is linked to the SPHE curriculum and other relevant areas of the primary curriculum. The programme was developed in consultation with a panel of experts within the fields of special education, online safety, digital technology and SPHE.

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD said: “In every home and every school we should be doing our best to ensure digital and online safety.

“All of us have a duty to teach children how to avoid the dangers that the internet throws at us.

“But there is also an onus on us all to help children understand what is right and wrong, what behaviour is acceptable and how we should show respect and dignity for one another online.

“Webwise are setting an impressive example. Their work is creative, engaging and dynamic and it is clearly helping to tackle key issues for schools and to ensure they have excellent, age-appropriate resources to support children and young people to encourage a safer use of the internet.”

The Government’s Action Plan for Online Safety was launched in July 2018 with the work of Webwise in promoting and supporting online safety central to its implementation. The number of students engaged in Safer Internet Day has grown by almost 40,000 to 140,000 nationwide since last year.

130 young people have become Webwise Ambassadors and took part in the Safer Internet Day Ambassador Training Programme to learn new skills and ideas for running their own internet safety campaigns in their school, clubs or organisations.

The Be in Ctrl back to school campaign created by Webwise, to raise awareness among young people about online grooming hit more than 1 million views in one week.

Ciara O’Donnell, National Director, Professional Development Service for Teachers, said: “On behalf of PDST’s Webwise initiative we are delighted to present another resource to support teachers and parents in raising awareness about use of the internet. This resource highlights both the benefits and the challenges of new technologies which are changing all the time. Rooted in the SPHE curriculum, this resource is engaging and informative for children who will also enjoy the fun and animated way it is presented.”

Notes for Editors

HTML Heroes Animations

What is the internet?
What can I trust online?
What is online advertising?

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day is an EU initiative. It is promoted in Ireland by the Webwise internet safety initiative of the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). It aims to educate and raise awareness about protecting children online, so that they can enjoy responsibly the benefits of the internet, without compromising their safety and privacy.

Safer Internet Day Ambassador Programme
140,000 students have registered to take part in Safer Internet Day in an increase of almost 40,000 on 2018.

More than 130 second-level students took part in the Safer Internet Day Ambassador Training Programme, a peer-led initiative by Webwise. The students involved in the programme are keen to do something positive amongst their peers by raising awareness of both the benefits and risks of the online environment. They also took part in a training day at Google headquarters Dublin.

The programme empowers students to lead successful internet safety awareness raising campaigns in their schools and communities. It provides opportunities to develop leadership, human relations, team building and communication skills. Safer Internet Day Ambassadors make a commitment to lead by example, demonstrate respect and responsibility and engage in community service.

Students awards for Online Safety Initiatives
Webwise have launched the first Safer Internet Day Awards, open to all primary and second-level students. The aim is to recognise the efforts of schools and students in making the internet a better place for all.

Competition categories include: Best Use of Social Media, Best Use of Technology, Best Arts (Music, Poster, Art, Writing), Best Anti-Cyberbullying Campaign, Best Video, Best Whole School Campaign, and the Safer Internet Day Ambassador Leadership Award.

Schools have until February 28th to enter, with the winning second-level students being treated to a secret gig in an exclusive Dublin venue.

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