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When the Lords met the Legends

For the last year, Parent Zone has been working with Google to create thousands of new Internet Legends.

We’ve helped the communications giant take its assemblies aimed at primary school children to 45 schools around the country to help kids learn how to be safe and confident online. And, though we say so ourselves, it’s been brilliant!

Now, and with one eye on Christmas approaching, our latest assembly has taken place in front of a group of Lords - and they were leaping with joy!

A bit of background

Google Internet Legends was officially launched in the UK last February on Safer Internet day with a special assembly in front of hundreds of excited primary school children at London’s Mermaid Theatre.

Since then, around 7,000 seven-to-11-year old, key stage 2 pupils have heard the messages and joined in the fun. 

Research has shown that the average age for a person to get their first mobile phone is now eight years old – so it’s the perfect stage to teach children how to use that, and other devices, such as games consoles, safely.

With the freedoms that this new contact with the online world affords, safety advice and guidance is much needed for this age group – and has been welcomed in schools with huge enthusiasm.

The school’s assembly hall is transformed by the Google team using banners, lighting and a sound system, and interaction with the children is encouraged by the use of large foam hands, which they use to answer questions posed by the presentation team. 

The main theme of the entertainment is an invitation to learn about the pitfalls that exist around internet use so that they become knowledgeable, powerful ‘Internet Legends’. 

The assembly addresses four main topics: 

  • The importance of using passwords when going online.
  • The dangers of over sharing images.
  • A warning to check that what you are seeing and reading is really what it says it is.
  • A call to action to be ‘kind online’.

We’re thrilled to say that there’s not been a school so far that hasn’t welcomed the Google Legends assembly, and the feedback is often that the teachers have learnt as much as the pupils. 

Wherever the assembly goes, the local MP is invited to come along too. They watch the presentation and speak to the children at the end. 

The teachers and children welcome the chance to show off their school to the MP, while the MPs have told us that they love the chance to see the reactions of the children to the key messages of the assembly. 

So far, over 30 cross party MPs, including ministers, have been along to Google Legends assemblies. 

It’s always interesting to see their reaction and to hear their insight.

The present – and the future

This week, Parent Zone organised a very special assembly at Richard Atkins primary school in Brixton, South London.

As well as the 180 key stage 2 pupils who attended the assembly, members of the House of Lords came along too. 

All of them are part of a committee put together to look into the whole question of keeping children safe online. 

They are currently holding meetings with key players in this area, including our own CEO Vicki Shotbolt, and were keen to see at first hand what Google is doing to help the next generation of internet users stay safe online. 

There is always a fission of excitement around the assembly, which entertains as much as it educates. 

It’s fast moving – and loud! – but if the Lords were out of their comfort zone in a Brixton primary school with180 very excited pupils waving large foam hands and shouting their promise to honour the Internet Legends’ code, they didn’t show it.  

The guests, including the Bishop of Chelmsford, and Lord Richard Best, who addressed the children at the end of the assembly, were very positive about what they’d seen and heard. 

They told us that they enjoyed meeting the people who will most benefit from their work in this area – the children themselves.

Most importantly, the pupils loved it, and really responded to messages shared by the assembly.

The Google Internet Legends assemblies are continuing throughout this school year. Dates are filling up fast but if your school is interested in taking part, please let us know by emailing info@parentzone.org.uk.

Read more:

Google Internet Legends

Celebrating one year and 6000 new Internet Legends

Image: Parent Zone