Cyber-Security Startup Nominet Launches New Progamme to Keep Kids Safe Online

On 10th September, Nominet launched its new Children’s Online Safety programme, which aims to equip young people with the necessary skills to help them navigate the challenges posed by being online. Nominet claim to be “proud guardians of the .UK domain name registry.” Their sophisticated cyber-security system, rooted in their understanding of the complex Domain Name System (DNS), is used by the UK government and global enterprises to secure their networks. Over eleven million UK domains are managed by Nominet and they utilise their commercial success to fund an ambitious programme to improve the lives of 1 million young people through technology – keeping children safe and secure online is a key part of this.

An initial funding sum of £250,000 will focus on improving the safety of young internet users though programmes in schools. Two leading partner organisations will support Nominet: Childnet and the South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), which are both charities seeking to enable and promote the safe and secure use of technology.

Digital learning is now an integral part of kids’ education

Nominet’s research into the sector has shown that many systems designed to help children are focused on restriction or withdrawal from the online world. Instead of setting limits and lecturing kids – which could cause them to rebel – their new programme equips children with the skills and capabilities to navigate the online world and negotiate a a safe online experience for themselves.

Digital learning is now an integral part of kids’ education, so it is more important than ever that they learn to stay safe online and use technology as a tool rather than fall prey to its dangers and risks.

Childnet is running a Digital Leaders programme which is a youth leadership training programme empowering young people to educate their peers about online safety. However, around 70% of the schools or organisations who tried Childnet’s guest login did not go on to subscribe. They say that while that they think the programme would be a fantastic addition to their curriculum, cost is the biggest barrier to subscribing.

In response to this, Nominet is providing £125,000 of funding for a new bursary scheme, called Childnet and Nominet Digital Leaders Plus, to expand the reach of the programme into the 30 most disadvantaged areas of the UK, giving more young people the opportunity to take part without the budget of their school being a limiting factor. The grant will fund a 90% discount to access the CDLP for selected schools.

Eleanor Bradley, one of Nominet’s Executive Directors, says:

“We strongly believe that finances should never be a barrier to learning about online safety. Nearly 60% of 11 to 12 year-olds are on social media, and over one in three internet users is a child. High levels of usage do not necessarily translate to high levels of skill or capability in using online platforms safely though, and that’s where our support can help established and credible programmes to amplify and broaden their reach with existing, high-quality resources with proven social impact. What’s key is that our partnerships in this space avoid further crowding of the online safety environment with new resources, and that we enable more children to access high quality guidance from trusted sources.”

Eleanor Bradley, Executive Director at Nominet

Nominet’s other partner, SWGfL, runs a programme called ProjectEVOLVE, an engaging and easy-to use digital tool, created by specialists to provide children with progressive digital skills. Nominet is supporting the development of course materials and assessments and are hoping to help the initiative broaden its impact and grow its audience. Covering every aspect of online life from ages 3-18 through eight strands – such as self-image and identity or online relationships – for every necessary digital skill and competency, it matches detailed age-appropriate outcomes and discussion with fully resourced activities. The Project Lead for SWGfL said that they hope the project will “improve the overall baseline for online safety in the UK.”

The total expected reach for the project is 100,000 young people.

Header image – Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels