A TEENAGER has helped pen a pair of plays to warn youngsters about the importance of staying safe online.
Laura Johnson, 17, of Houghton, is part of a group of students who have created two plays designed to keep primary school children aware of the perils of cyberspace.
The first performance, entitled If I Were You, focused on cyber bullying, while The Stranger, which will be shown today, is set to highlight the dangers of internet grooming.
Research by the Anti-Bullying Alliance revealed that 18 per cent of 10- and 11- year-olds have point been targets of cyber bullies while in their own home.
More than 200 pupils from different primary schools will watch the plays, as well as participate in question and answer sessions about online safety and the issues brought to life in the performances.
Laura said: “The plays have been created as part of a group project and we decided we wanted to use the performances to give young people advice on how to stay safe when using the internet.
“Online safety is the focus because more young people are using sites like Facebook and Twitter every day and it’s important they understand the risks involved and how they can stay safe.”
She added: “We feel the plays will help to get across important messages in an interactive and fun way and we really want to engage with the pupils.”
Both plays have been written and performed by students who are studying for a BTec National Diploma qualification in Performing Arts.
Children are visiting the Baltic Campus theatre at Gateshead College, where Laura is a student, to see the plays.
Eve Daly, 11, said: “We really enjoyed the first performance and I was very interested in finding out more about the different things that you need to be aware of when you use the internet.
“It made me realise that I shouldn’t be using certain websites until I’m old enough.”
Those writing the play consulted the college’s internet safety officer, Iain Arthurs, on what would be suitable.
Mr Arthurs said: “More young people than ever before now use mobile phones and personal computers to access the internet.
“It is important that we educate them on how to be safe online so that they can take advantage of the vast learning and communication opportunities available.
“The performances are a fantastic idea by our performing arts students to bring the issues to life in a fun and interactive way.”