Once again, the European Commission is celebrating the Safer Internet Day. This time the theme is “Internet is more than a game, it’s your life”, which refers to the fact that our actions and decisions on social networks also have an impact on real life.
There is an increasing need to raise awareness, educate and make young Internet users understand that on the Internet, people are not acting anonymously, and moreover that the information you provide not only lasts over time but that you cannot control who accesses it. In short, once you click, you are opening a door through which anyone can enter.
And in this respect, Telefónica is increasingly focusing its efforts on promoting the proper use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). If we had to explain it using a simile, we might think about road safety: nowadays, it is not just enough to make cars safer. We must also raise awareness with drivers of the importance of obeying traffic signals and speed limits. Well, the same holds true for the Internet. Not only must we help to achieve safe Internet surfing using content filters or terminals that are adapted to the communication needs of children depending on their ages; we must also help young people to derive maximum benefit from ICTs.
For example, in Spain and various Latin American countries, training activities are being promoted in schools through the Interactive Generations Forum, co-founded in 2008 by Telefónica along with the University of Navarre. These initiatives have benefited more than 46,000 people.
In Europe, through partnerships with various NGOs, the emphasis is on raising awareness about bullying using new technologies, to be able to identify these bad practices, prevent them, respond in the event they do occur and, of course, primarily to prevent them from occurring in the first place. How do we achieve this? Primarily through education. In Telefónica O2 United Kingdom, for example, we provide a series of leaflets instore to help parents understand exactly what their child’s mobile can actually do. And we also led a campaign to stop children receiving unwanted texts. In Ireland, we have a dedicated Child Protection Web site aimed at parents that contains a ‘Checklist for Parents’ of things to ask before buying a mobile phone for a child. In Germany, we continue to offer advice and guidance to customers, parents, children and schools, on the safe use of our mobile and Internet products and services. The information is frequently updated and is available on our Customer Portal and Corporate Resposnsability Portal. And last but not least, in the Czech Republic, we have a Web site section for an anti-harassment and anti-bullying initiative. This includes content on issues surrounding the use of mobile phones for harassment, bullying and other abuse(s) of modern communications technologies.
On this Safer Internet Day, I believe that it is necessary to recall how important it is for these recommendations to be conveyed to school children, as part of their school curriculum, just as road safety is being taught. Which measure do you think is more efficient to ensure a safer Internet for our kids?
Take a look to the official SID2011 video: It’s more than a game, it’s your life!