Film by Acrefair eCadets helps keep youngsters safe on the internet

Three internet savvy youngsters have produced a film aimed at keeping schoolchildren safe online.

The efforts of pupils Jamie Bolton, Diana Silva and Nathan Wright, from Ysgol Acrefair, in Acrefair, near Wrexham, earned praise from Clwyd South AM Ken Skates, who is also the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology.

Ken Skates AM visits Acrefair school to see eCadets in action with the pupils.

Their film project was part of the eCadet initiative devised by award-winning internet experts eTreble9, from Hawarden, in Flintshire.

Jamie, and Diana, both 10, and Nathan, nine have trained as eCadets to advise fellow students how to protect themselves when browsing the internet, using social media on smart phones and tablets, or playing online games.

The short film was shown for the first time during a visit to the school by Mr Skates.

He said: “The eCadets are absolutely fantastic. There’s no better way no teaching young people how to be safe on the internet and they are doing a wonderful job.

“The eCadets here at Acrefair are incredibly enthusiastic and very knowledgeable as well. They’ve been able to teach me a few things about e safety.

“I must say the film made by Jamie and Diana was a really incredible achievement.

“The internet is here to stay. There are dangers but there is enormous potential in the internet, so it’s important that the first thing that young people do is recognise the dangers and the pitfalls but then embrace the opportunities that are bound to follow.

“The eCadets scheme is very innovative and it’s wonderful that it is happening first here in Wales.

“It’s great that a scheme which has such a wide reach as this has been born in being rolled out across Wales and beyond.”

Jamie really enjoys being an eCadet.

He said: “I’ve been going about the school helping my friends. It’s important to be safe. I teach my friends how to be safe in a lot of ways. It’s important you don’t speak to people you don’t know online, and you don’t use your real name.”

An equally enthusiastic Diana added: “We’re taught not to give away personal information because people can take that and use it in a non-positive way. For example they could mess around with your profile.

“I have really enjoyed the eCadet course and I really enjoy helping people.”

The scheme was the brainchild of Henry and Danielle Platten, who already run a successful company advising about online security for companies and individuals.

Mr Platten, a former police sergeant, said: “The response following the launch has been absolutely fantastic. It’s really spreading across the whole of Wales and into England. It’s really exploded.

“It’s shown the need which we always felt was out there and we’re delighted by the positive impact it’s making in the schools.

“The eCadets have been able to help their peers and their friends who have had problems online. They’ve been able to deal with some questions that previously would have gone unanswered and also enjoy the challenges that are set, and enjoy that bonding.

“Our approach is very much not to frighten them, not to scare them, just to show them how to use it safely to give them that confidence, to give them those skills to be digital citizens, and really to live their lives safely online so that they get the most from it.

“Ysgol Acrefair was the first school in Wrexham to have the eCadets scheme and they’ve really gone for it full-throttle which is brilliant to see.

“They’ve come up with extra ideas to try and promote e safety, and their next monthly challenge is actually helping to train the parents and give parents the skills in terms of being able to use social media and the internet safely as well.”

Headteacher Lisa Roberts explained: “We haven’t had huge amounts of problems with Facebook but I thought this was something we should tackle and eTreble9 have opened our eyes as to what the dangers are and how to protect yourselves.

“It’s about trusting the children, giving them a focus, and giving them set criteria that they’ve got to meet.

“We can’t ignore social media, you can’t pretend it’s not there – you’ve got to embrace it, and to make sure the children do so safely.

“Our eCadets are brilliant and having them on the yard every day and the children knowing that they can go to them just means that anything that comes up is dealt with immediately.

“If the children have a question or a problem they go to the eCadets. They then email eTreble9 and they get an immediate response so they can feed back to the children.

“It gives the pupils a safety net and I think they feel more comfortable going to talk to fellow pupils rather than adults.

“Facebook is an issue because children are not really supposed to be on Facebook until they’re 13 so they wouldn’t necessarily admit to their teachers that they’re on Facebook, or ask them questions about that, but they will to their peers, so I think it’s really useful in that respect.”

To watch the film visit:

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