Will it hurt or will it help?

We had the privilege on Tuesday and Wednesday this week of Rachel Downie, the founder of Stymie visiting the College and holding student focussed sessions for Year 5 to 10 students and a parent information session on Tuesday evening. She has asked us to think about this question each time we like, share or post anything on social media, no matter what the platform. ‘Will it hurt or will it help?’ It is imperative for all students, and us as adults, to recognise that our online presence has consequences, and we are responsible for what we post online. A.B. Paterson College introduced the Stymie reporting tool to empower students to anonymously report situations where they believe a student is possibly experiencing harm or requires support. Stymie empowers young people to #saysomething. This week, Rachel spoke to the Year 9 and 10 students on Tuesday about how social media and gaming can harm us as well as those we interact with. She told us some sad stories about students that had been horribly impacted online. This included laws and regulations about nudes. On Tuesday evening, Rachel spoke to parents about Cyberwellness and what that means. Practical tips and strategies were shared which I am going to refine in my own home environment. Importantly, it was recognised that we as parents are in this together and it is ‘difficult’ to monitor our own children’s screen usage.

On Wednesday Rachel spoke firstly to the Year 5 and 6 students about social media and the law including age restrictions and why they are in place. The session then moved to what is a digital footprint and the dangers of online chat forums. In the afternoon, Rachel spoke with the Year 7 and 8 students about the safety and legality of social media and what they can and can not do, and how quickly it can spiral out of control. This included cyberbullying and reputational damage to themselves, others and, in this instance, the College.

Rachel is making a big difference in young people’s lives by educating teachers, parents and students about their responsibilities and rights, and giving them the tools to reach out for support. Our students learnt a lot from this exceptional and accomplished person, who has her finger on the pulse of the most up to date data, real stories of harm and, importantly, how we can safeguard our children and ourselves in the ever increasing digital space we live in.

Simon Edgar
Acting Head of Senior School