SAFER INTERNET DAY ///
Tuesday, February 7, marks Safer Internet Day – a day dedicated to sharing tips and information and resources that help increase online literacy and teach kids/youth about online safety and responsibility.
Never before has there been a generation that has been so connected by technology. While this certainly presents many opportunities, there are also some harmful and serious situations that can arise while using the Internet. Children and teens need help navigating this complex new world and adults need to support them by first educating themselves on potential risks and helpful preventative measures, and then by sharing these strategies with the youth in their lives.
Safer Internet Day is a global initiative with companies, non-profits, schools, and other community groups taking part by spreading the message.
Read more about Safer Internet Day (provided by saferinternetday.org)
The online safety landscape has evolved over recent years from a focus on creating a ‘safer’ internet to creating a ‘better’ internet. Whether we are children and young people, parents and carers, educators or social care workers, or indeed industry, decision makers or politicians, we can all be the change and unite for a better internet.
In championing a better internet, the theme aims to encourage people to be the change and make the most of the positive opportunities offered online, while giving them the resilience, skills, knowledge and support they need to navigate any online risks they may come across.
There are ways in which we can all be the change:
Children and young people can help to create a better internet by being kind and respectful to others online, by protecting their online reputations (and those of others), and by seeking out positive opportunities to create, engage and share online. They can help to respond to the negative by being ‘helpful bystanders’: supporting peers if they encounter issues online, taking a stand against cyberbullying, and reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find. Above all, children and young people should be encouraged to take their stand as digital citizens of the future – participating in debates on the future of the internet, and making their voices heard.
Parents and carers can help to create a better internet by maintaining an open and honest dialogue with their children about their online lives, by supporting them with their personal development online and helping them to deal with any concerns or issues, seeking out positive opportunities to engage with their children online, and helping their children to find and use good quality digital resources. They can help to respond to the negative by staying engaged with their child’s online activity (as appropriate to their age), by modelling positive online behaviours themselves, and by also reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find.
Educators and social care workers can help to create a better internet by equipping children and young people with the digital literacy skills they require for today’s world, and giving them opportunities to use – and create – positive content online. They can help to respond to the negative by supporting young people if they encounter problems online, and by giving them the resilience, confidence and skills that young people need to navigate the internet safely.
Industry can help to create a better internet by creating and promoting positive content and safe services online and by empowering users to respond to any issues by providing clear safety advice, a range of easy-to-use safety tools, and quick access to support if things do go wrong.
Decision makers and politicians need to provide the culture in which all of the above can function and thrive – for example, by ensuring that there are opportunities in the curriculum for children to learn about online safety, ensuring that parents and carers have access to appropriate information and sources of support, and that industry are encouraged to self regulate their content and services. They must also take the lead in governance and legislation, and ultimately ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people through effective child protection strategies for the online world.