We are supporting Safer Internet Day (SID), which is organised by the joint Insafe/INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission*, to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology, especially among children and young people. this year’s theme is ‘Be the change: unite for a better internet’.
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 wellbeing of children and young people through effective child protection strategies for the online world.
* Safer Internet Day would not be possible without the support of the European Commission. Currently the funding is provided by the Connecting Europe Facility programme (CEF). Find out more about the EC’s ‘European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children’ on the Digital Agenda website.