On Safer Internet Day, more than 100 events in 30 European countries will encourage children, their families and teachers, to discover the digital world together. This is the ninth annual Safer Internet Day, celebrated in more than 70 countries worldwide as part of a global drive to promote safer Internet for children and young people.
In Europe, Safer Internet Day is coordinated by INSAFE, the network of Safer Internet Centres funded by the Commission through the € 55 million Safer Internet Programme. This year’s events include an online test for parents in Austria (testing their reactions to different situations related to their kids’ use of online technologies); in France a new game for 7-12 year olds featuring the online adventures of Vinz and Lou, a “most responsible school” competition in Slovakia and surveys, information packs for pupils, parents and teachers, and awareness raising in all participating countries (see the Safer Internet Day site for more details of events in your area)
Keeping children safe online is an important part of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). In December 2011, the Commission convened a coalition of 28 leading companies who have committed to making a better and safer Internet for children. (see IP/11/1485). Three more companies (Stardoll, Skyrock and Telecom Italia) joined the Coalition in January 2012. Companies have promised to deliver on five priority actions including: making it easier to report harmful content, ensuring privacy settings are age-appropriate, offering wider options for parental control and content classification, reflecting the needs of a generation that is going online at an increasingly young age. In addition to coordinating industry efforts, the Commission will present a comprehensive strategy for a safer Internet for kids in Spring 2012
This year’s safer Internet Day campaign is focused on connecting generations, “Discover the digital world together…safely”. Tech-savvy youngsters can teach older generations how to use new technologies, while parents and grandparents draw on their life experiences to advise younger generations on how to stay safe online.
According to the latest EU kids online survey 77% of 13-16 year olds and 38% of 9-12 year olds in Europe who use the Internet say they have a profile on a social networking site. However, children’s apparent level of online experience is not always matched by confidence or skill.
12% of European 9-16 year olds who use the Internet say they have been bothered or upset by something on it.
But, 56% of parents whose child has received nasty or hurtful messages online are not aware of this.
Help from family and friends
Evidence suggests that both children and adults turn to their family and friends when they need help in the online world
48% of parents get online safety advice first and foremost from family and friends.
Children say they get most of their advice on how to be safe online from parents (63%), then teachers (58%), other relatives (47%), then peers (44%).
INSAFE has 6 key tips to help parents and teachers in assisting their child to use the Internet safely. It suggests that parents and teachers should:
Talk about the internet and dedicate time to explore it together with the child. Ask the child to show them what he or she likes to do online, and try not to be shocked or overreact if they do not share the same interests.
Stimulate the child’s creativity. Point them in the direction of the best online content to explore for their development (or just for fun). The child can learn and discover new sites, play games, write blogs, create websites. Stretch his or her imagination.
Set up rules or boundaries together. When\Where\Why and for how long can the child use their mobile phone or computer? If you listen to the child and establish fair rules, then he or she is more likely to stick to them.
Protect personal data and help the child understand that information or photos they put online can remain visible to everybody forever. Help them set up the highest level of privacy settings on social networks.
Think about using parental control tools to automatically filter certain topics (e.g. violence, porn) and limit the time the child will be able to navigate the web.
Avoid having a computer in the child’s bedroom. Put it in the living room instead. It will make it easier to follow the child’s web-surfing habits on a daily basis.