Pupils from Foundation partner schools were invited to the inaugural Unite Online event at Old Trafford, during which they took part in workshops and heard from guest speakers regarding the rise of live streaming and messaging apps and its repercussions for personal safety online.
Organised by Manchester United Foundation’s community cohesion and safeguarding teams, the aim of Unite Online is to educate young people about today’s digital landscape, the merits and risks, and to give them the chance to discuss their own online experiences with others.
Social media personality and blogger Jsky addressed the 70 pupils with advice on how to deal with negativity online and ensuring teenage actions don’t affect future prospects. He said, “I put myself out there a lot with the way I dress and act, so when I’m online I get a lot of mixed criticism – some of it is really nice and some of it is really mean and nasty, but it’s important to know that despite the bad things people say there are people out there who like and respect what you do online.”
Jsky added, “Speaking to young people isn’t something I always find myself doing but these kids are the future, they are future leaders and influencers and that’s a great title to have. I’ve been a presenter and interviewed some incredible people and have been very fortunate but I’m also here today to learn from these kids and not just to lecture them.”
Manchester Academy pupil, Iman, also felt the day provided a positive experience for the group of teenagers. She said, “It was a really good day because I found out a lot of things that I didn’t know before. From now on I think I’m going to be more careful online and tell other people about how they can also stay safe.”
Iman added, “This event and the Foundation gives students a lot of support; lots of people have been bullied online and today encourages us all to be more supportive and proactive.”
Each pupil involved in United Online will now act as an ambassador at their respective school and after positive feedback the Foundation plans to repeat the conference annually.