A group of students from our National Diploma in Graphic Design course have used their design talents to devise campaign material to be used throughout the College warning students to beware of divulging personal information online.
The College is specifically responding to the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) Stay Safe initiative to safeguard its learners in the 14 – 19 age group, although the message is crucial for everyone and so resources developed will be displayed across all campus areas and on College computer systems.
Virtually all young people commonly communicate via online social networking on a daily basis but they can be oblivious to their vulnerability to criminals and malicious influences including grooming, sexting, computer viruses, cyber bullying, illegal activity and fraud. The online ‘friend’ may be a paedophile or a criminal. While the internet offers huge educational and social benefits, users need to be careful that they are not sharing their private information with the world.
Beth Snowden, Staff Development and e-learning Trainer, who is a member of the College’s e-safety committee which instigated the campaign, explained, “Our interest lies in creating awareness of the e-safety message and getting students involved. A lot of the available material about online safety was directed at children so we asked the students to come up with something more appropriate for our learners. The students told me that they had been shocked by the research they had done and they produced some very good designs for posters, mouse mats and pop ups.”
The students’ work was judged by Satnam Singh, a former College graphic design student who was now Director of successful agency Red Dezign, who offered an important industry perspective; Sally Karimian, Safeguarding Officer, who had intitiated the campaign, and Rónán O’Beirne, Director for Learning Development & Research at Bradford College.
A first prize of £50 plus two runners up prizes were given for the three best designs, although Doug Stott, Executive Director of Finance, congratulated all the group for their excellent work. He told the students “I’m an accountant and I don’t have any of your creative talents. I operate in a different world so I am very impressed at how you have communicated these ideas."
The first prize was awarded to Jack Pearson, who explained all about his designs and motivations. Jack said, “I have optical nerve dysplasia and so only have 17% vision. But I have drawn all my life and computer technology lets me zoom right into my work which makes it easier. I am a really technical person and I absolutely love technology. Most young people are so attracted to all the shiny new gadgets but they don’t ask if it is safe. Marketing just shows the attractive side. I know people will only look at an image for a few seconds so you need something that will catch the eye straightaway and tell a different story. I used a familiar messenger icon that everyone would be familiar with, personalised it and added details to make it like a demon to represent evil. This could be extended by showing icons for social networking sites as having devil horns, fangs and things. I hope that my work changes young people’s perceptions and how they act over the internet."
Jack continued, "The internet is a really good thing but there are so many potential problems out there – paedophiles, bullying, identity theft, credit card fraud, hackers that find your passwords and decode everything. It is not the technology at fault but criminals and people using the technology for evil purposes. But you can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist as everyone has the internet now and there is so much more technology developed all the time. You have to be aware and take precautions."
Course Tutor, Jayne Delaney has been greatly impressed by Jack’s progress over four years at College. She explained “He completed his First Diploma, then the National Award in Interactive Media prior to the two year National Diploma course. He is a very gifted artist who has not let anything stand in his way and he hopes to continue his studies here by enrolling on one of the degree courses here in September. The distance he has travelled is just incredible and I am so proud of him.”
Worthy runners up, Ryan Branscombe and Hayley Duffin also talked about their designs and the impact the project had on them. Ryan said, “Before this project I knew a little bit about online safety, like you know people who would bully you online and I never really trusted some of the social networks, but when researching some of the hard hitting facts I realised I was just not aware of how bad the problem was. This project has made me more wary. Most people think about safety when they are going out but online they think they are safe. Some of the stuff you hear on the news about young people being abducted or made suicidal makes you think but then you forget it when you go online as you are feel safe in your cosy room or whatever. It is not like walking down a dark street where you expect danger. My images are dark to show this grunginess. One in three students has at least been bullied online and this would make them feel lonely and very bad. I wanted to express this dark, miserable mood that can get you when you think you are safe. I used the volume symbol from a computer with words coming out of it. I used small hurtful words that would be harmful when you see them written on a PC.”
Hayley was so affected by the numbers abused online that she made the statistics an integral part of her designs. She said, “Although I knew something about the issues I never realised the extent of the problem. You never think these things will happen to you but it was amazing what I found out from my research. Statistics show that 75% of people have experienced abusive behaviour online but don’t report it. I wanted to use the shock factor to get the message across. Young people need to know what to watch out for and be careful not to give out any personal information. If you know how big the problem is, you know that you could be a victim if you don’t know what to watch out for. It is also making people aware that cyber bullying is serious and not to be part of it, either as a victim or a bully. Reading the statistics is frightening but making it visual makes it stand out so that you can appreciate it more.”
As well as accomplishing the design aspect of the project, the students learnt crucial lessons to share with their peers. The top online tips were:
1. Be really careful who you share your personal information with.
2. Find out who you are talking to. People may not be who they say they are.
3. Respect given is respect earned!
4. Mind your language.
5. Be smart. Be legal. Downloads can be tracked!
6. Cyber bullying – just don’t!