The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence | Interview 1

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Empowering kids to be safe online is as important as teaching them to cross roads safely. In today’s world it is crucial they understand how to navigate the online world, because unfortunately, the Internet can expose them to cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and online predators. Developing digital literacy and responsible online behaviour helps them spot and navigate these dangers, protect their personal information, and make informed choices. It also lays the foundation for a lifetime of positive online interactions, and the ability to critically assess online information safely and securely.

Growing connections in the online space may seem easy, but kids need to understand how to remain safe and know where to turn if they require help and support. 

The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is the perfect reminder to share best practices, and teach vital tips and tricks for remaining safe online.

Here at ESET, we are a global cybersecurity company committed to safeguarding families and individuals. Safer Kids Online, an ESET initiative, focuses on ensuring children can explore the digital world safely.

We embarked on a series of enlightening interviews that places digital security and online well-being in the spotlight. 

Hosting the interview series is Jake Moore, ESET’s Global Cybersecurity Advisor.

Jake actively shapes the discourse around cybersecurity, contributing his expertise to respected media outlets such as BBC, ITV, and The Times. 

Joining Jake in this interview is Trent Ray, a steadfast advocate for digital safety. As the Co-Founder of the Cyber Safety Project and Director of Collective Education Australia, Trent has made it his mission to equip young Australians with the skills to navigate the online realm securely. His commitment to building safe digital communities aligns perfectly with the ethos of the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. 

Jake and Trent’s combined insights in this compelling conversation shed light on the essential strategies needed to ensure a positive and secure online experience for all kids, families and school communities. 



Jake: It’s fascinating how age doesn't determine the speed of learning in the digital world. Even my parents in their seventies are picking it up at the same pace as my 8- and 10-year-old kids. Sometimes, I bring them together, and they share insights – their different mindsets are astonishing. So, there's always room for learning. Every day is a school day.

Parents often assume that schools or apps will cover everything, but that's a misconception. I always advise fellow parents to be proactive. Even though I personally can't stand Roblox, I immersed myself in it to understand the landscape and language. It's crucial for parents to dive into the apps, even if they dislike them, and learn the safety aspects firsthand.

Trent: We should also keep in mind that gaming is a major part of young people's lives today. Just like playing sports with your kids when they're into football or tennis, it's important to engage with them in their digital interests. Building positive connections with our kids is key. Even if we're not fans of the games they love, playing together can be incredibly beneficial. It's a chance to learn, and also establish a strong rapport and build a rich connection. This can create an environment where they feel comfortable discussing any online challenges they might face.

Jake: Absolutely, the analogy holds. Just as parents naturally engage in physical activities with their kids, the same applies to their digital interests. Some parents hesitate, and put their head in the sand, thinking it's complex, but given technology's role today, why not engage in their digital interests similarly?

I was wondering if you could explain the importance of children managing their digital safety and well-being? Balancing screen time, being aware of online risks, and fostering healthy tech habits; this helps them navigate the online world safely as responsible digital citizens. 

Trent: Sure, while adults play a vital role in safeguarding kids' security and well-being, we also aim to empower children to make informed choices. Equipping them with strategies to recognise technology's impact on their well-being is crucial. Our work in schools focuses on engaging in conversations and helping them comprehend how technology influences how we live, learn, connect and play. Many apps use psychology to capture and hold attention, and it's important for kids to grasp this.

Jake: That moment of realisation is key. Recognising when something isn’t right is a significant skill. What are some of the things you’ve been educating kids about this year?

Trent: We often talk about social skills with kids, and help them to understand how they can interact effectively, responsibly, respectfully, with empathy with each other in the physical world. But we have to understand that in 2023 there are actually three types of worlds that we live in: the physical world, the digital world, and we'll have the virtual world. 

So what we want to do is really think about social scenarios and help them to unpack how things feel. As the digital world becomes more prevalent, the rise in negative behaviours we face online is striking. The term "keyboard warriors'' is often used, although "keyboard cowards" may be more fitting, as they wouldn’t express the same sentiments face-to-face. It’s easy to speak without considering the impact on others; it’s about recognising the ripple effects of our actions and words.

At the Cyber Safety Project, our focus revolves around cultivating empathy and resilience. We guide young people in bouncing back from challenges, provide them with resources for seeking help, and empower them to understand that support is available.

Jake: Especially as kids can suffer in silence. I always worry for those not knowing where to turn. Maybe they don't have that perfect relationship where they can go and speak to their parents, they might feel that they need to go and speak to someone else, and they might not know who. 

In Australia, you've got this campaign called National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, which is amazing, and I wish we had it in the UK. And the theme this year is called “Growing Connections”. Building connections is vital, like speaking to trusted adults such as teachers. Some kids prefer younger teachers who understand their issues. It's about finding the right person to confide in. What tips would you give kids that are being cyberbullied, and especially suffering in silence?

Trent: When you're facing online bullying, it's common to feel isolated, even though you're not alone. Many of us encounter negative comments online. What's crucial to promote is that these experiences could be against the law, especially here in Australia. Cyberbullying is considered a crime in our country, and we're fortunate to have an Office of the Safety Commissioner where incidents can be reported. Australia is at the forefront with legislation that holds apps and games accountable. They're required to assist users facing issues, and the Office of the Safety Commissioner can intervene if this support is lacking, with potential fines for non-compliance.

For kids facing online bullying, there are three simple steps to take. Firstly, remember it's not your fault and help is available. Secondly, capture screenshots of the behaviour, as it might be useful for reporting. Next, reach out to your trusted support network, which can include school personnel, teachers, even friends and family. Many teachers are training in these issues. Finally, If the situation doesn't improve after reporting to the app, the next step is reporting to the eSafety Commissioner.

Jake: Perhaps school leaders potentially may not know where to go, where to turn, as it might be new for so many of these teachers. What can school leaders do in schools to assist with cyberbullying themselves? And how can we help?

Trent: Yeah, I think having clear systems, processes and policies in our schools, to make sure that we have pathways for reporting that are really visible to kids. At school, we prominently display guidance on seeking help and support if things go awry. These signs showcase strategies for seeking assistance and might even feature images of trusted individuals who students can approach if they need to disclose something. They need to be really visible.

When it comes to the policies around cyberbullying, I think it’s really important to involve young people in those policy creations as well, that's super important. 

And then one of the things that we can all do as school leaders is to make sure that we have proactive education in place that makes values-based education really be part of that.

Jake: We’re almost at the end of the discussion. But for those who want to take away one thing, I'm going to ask you for a takeaway for each different group of people: parents/guardians, kids themselves, and then the school leaders.

What’s your one takeaway these groups can go and do right now?

Trent: One thing is to make sure that you're engaging in conversations about this with young people, so that they can feel confident you've got this, and that you care and are concerned about their well-being online. 

When it comes to school leaders, it’s about making sure that we've got help-seeking strategies really visible in our schools, and to lead the way encouraging all school staff to have open time and space for proactive education in their classrooms, about values and digital citizenship. 

And then young people should know that being cyberbullied is not your fault, that there are many avenues for reporting, and getting help and support not only from the apps, but through online organisations such as the Office of the Safety Commissioner.  

Jake: We’ve also got Safer Kids Online at ESET, with huge amounts of information and resources for everyone. Thanks so much, this has been amazing! 

Trent: It’s a great opportunity to talk about this, and share tips and strategies. We also have support from a community level with schools at Cyber Safety Project


About ESET

We are a pioneering cybersecurity company with over 30 years of experience, offering award-winning technology to protect individuals, families, and businesses across more than 200 countries and territories. As active members of the global Internet community, we are dedicated to safeguarding our digital future and contributing to a safer online environment for everyone.


About Safer Kids Online

Safer Kids Online, an ESET initiative, is a comprehensive digital safety platform designed to empower children and young people to navigate the digital world securely. With a focus on curating expert advice, tips, knowledge, and tools, Safer Kids Online ensures that children can fully harness the benefits of the digital realm while maintaining their safety and well-being.