Secondary School Children: Digital opportunities and challenges for families in the time of COVID-19

CU session for children in secondary school. February 12, from 14:00-15:00

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly increased the interaction of children with the Internet. While the web is rich with educational and cultural content, it also fosters a plethora of multifaceted risks, particularly for children. The realisation of these risks can be avoided when parents are well informed of potential dangers and can guide their children to navigate the web safely while benefiting most out of it.

The session aimed to equip parents of children in secondary school with the tools to tackle online risks and empower their children to make the most out the Internet. The speakers shared practical advice and resources for parents to support their children’s online presence and promote safe & responsible use of the internet.


June Lowery-Kingston, Head of Unit Accessibility, Multilingualism & Safer Internet

June Lowery-Kingston is Head of Unit Accessibility, Multilingualism & Safer Internet, and a newly appointed Deputy to the Director at the European Commission at the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT) at the European Commission. Her work aims to promote a better internet for children by protecting and empowering children online, and improving the quality of content available to them. Her unit is also responsible for making digital life in Europe more accessible and inclusive, regardless of language, disability and age, and for coordinating CNECT actions for a Union of Equality.

Jane McGarrigle, Irish Safer Internet Centre

Educated in TU Dublin, Jane holds a BA Hons (2.1) in Photography, an Msc in Advertising (2.1) and a Certificate in Cyberpsychology from IADT. Jane joined Webwise in 2015 as Content Development Officer and has held the position of Project Officer for three years. Within her time as Project Officer, Jane has led the development and delivery of key online safety and digital literacy education programmes for primary and post-primary schools including the Garda Schools Programme, an award-winning digital media literacy programme for primary schools and a new post-primary digital literacy programme. Jane has also overseen the development of key youth training initiatives in online safety and award-winning awareness-raising campaigns tackling issues such as online grooming, coercion and harassment. McGarrigle also has responsibility for the coordination and promotion of Safer Internet Day in Ireland. Jane is a member of the National Advisory Council for Online Safety and has been an active member of the Media Literacy Ireland contributing to a national public Media Literacy awareness Campaign addressing the topic of false information and is also involved in a European media literacy research project.  Prior to her appointment with Webwise, Jane worked in the field of digital marketing and social media working on national media campaigns and delivery of digital projects. Originally from Northern Ireland, Jane lives and works in Dublin. 

Catriona Mulcahy, Irish Safer Internet Centre

Catriona has a BA Hons in English and Communications Studies from the University of Limerick, and an MSc in Multimedia Technology from University College Cork. Catriona is the Digital Content Officer with Webwise, having joined the project in 2019.
In this time, Catriona has been involved in the development of digital content for Webwise, including the internet safety awareness campaigns Connected and The Full Picture. These campaigns address online safety issues which impact on young people in Ireland, including topics such as respectful online communication and online wellbeing. Catriona is also involved in the promotion of Safer Internet in Ireland.
Catriona is also a member of the Media Literacy Ireland network, has been an external examiner for Limerick Institute of Technology, and has also worked on independent radio documentaries. Prior to joining Webwise, Catriona held a number of positions in the radio industry, and later worked as the Digital Officer at a national youth organisation where she was involved in a range of projects to encourage youth participation.

Karl Hopwood, Independent esafety expert

Karl Hopwood is an independent online safety expert. He is a member of UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety) and sits on the UKCIS evidence group and the UKCIS education group as well as on the advisory board for the UK Safer Internet Centre. He also sits on Twitter’s trust and safety council and the Roblox trust and safety board where he represents the Insafe network. Karl has worked for a number of key players in the UK and abroad including CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), BECTA (British Educational and Communications Technology Agency), the European Commission, the UN and several Local Authorities within the UK and in Europe. As an ex primary headteacher, he continues to work closely in schools across Europe with children, young people, parents and teachers to develop safer online behaviours and the promotion of digital literacy. Karl has been employed for the last 14 years as an in-house consultant for INSAFE which is the coordinating node of the EU Better Internet for Kids programme where he is responsible for the coordination of safer internet helplines across Europe. Karl is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Marie Collins Foundation, a charity which supports young people who have been sexually abused and exploited online and is also a trustee of Childnet International and an executive committee member of SACPA (Safeguarding and Child Protection Association). Karl has recently worked with a team developing a national online safety strategy in Rwanda and chaired the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) working group to re-write their Child Online Protection Guidance.