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Promoting Online Safety for Children and Facilitating Parental Discussions on Safer Internet Day

In today’s digital era, children are growing up in a space where the internet plays an integral role in their lives. The internet introduces the unlimited scope for children to have entertainment, learning, and socialisation. It is a gateway for numerous opportunities and learning. However, the internet also poses a risk for the children. It can hamper their wellbeing and put them at risk. As technology rapidly evolves, so does the risk for online safety for both adults and children. Children need to be equipped with the online threats and the possibilities to learn and have entertainment in an online space in order to ensure their well being overall. Children need to be made aware of the multifaceted internet space so that they can make informed decisions that will keep them safe while, at the same time, allowing them to explore the boon that the internet is.

Safer Internet Day is observed to promote a safer online presence for children. In this article, we will address the following important points:

  • What is Safer Internet Day?
  • Why is Safer Internet Day Celebrated?
  • Why is Safer Internet Day Important?
  • How to facilitate parental discussions on Safer Internet Day?

What is Safer Internet Day?

Safer Internet Day is a day to emphasise the importance of creating a safer internet space and for building a more responsible internet environment. Safer Internet Day started as an initiative of the EU SafeBroders project in the year 2004. In 2005, it was taken up by the Insafe network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs). Since then, it has been celebrated annually across the globe in approximately 200 countries and territories.

Why is Safer Internet Day Celebrated?

Each year, Safer Internet Day introduces dialogues about the need to create a more secure and responsible internet space. From cyberbullying, to social networking, to digital identity, Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness and create dialogues on a host of emerging issues around internet usage, especially for the younger netizens.

This year, in 2024, Safer Internet Day will be celebrated on 6th of February. The theme for this year is – “Inspiring change? Making a difference, managing influence and navigating change online.”

Why is Safer Internet Day Important?

Safer Internet Day is important because it aspires to make the internet safe for its users, as the name suggests. Every year has a new theme that opens dialogue for a safer internet, especially among the youngest generation which uses the internet.

This year, the day will focus on dialogue revolving inspiring change online, with the following points:

  • Young people’s perspective on the latest and emerging technology
  • Using the internet to make change for the better, keeping the future in mind
  • What changes young people would want to see online
  • The various things that can influence and change the way young people think, feel and act online as well as offline

Safer Internet Day is a perfect way to also introduce dialogue between the parents and children in order to keep the younger generation safe.

How to facilitate parental discussions on Safer Internet Day?

Parents play a pivotal role in keeping their children’s wellbeing in mind in every sphere of life. The Internet, being both a large boon and a curse if not taken care of properly, is one of the most important dialogues between parents and their children. According to a survey conducted by Meta:

  • “64% of parents trust themselves the most to guide their child’s technology use.”
  • “77% of parents say they are the most appropriate to determine how much time their child spends using online technologies.”
  • “77% of parents say they is most appropriate to decide the right age for their child to use online digital technologies.”

Here are some tips to introduce the topic to the children, in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children on the internet space.

  1. Parents as Guardians of Online Safety:
  2. Parents should be familiar with the digital platforms and applications that their children use. Understanding privacy settings, content filters, and parental control features empowers parents to set appropriate boundaries and monitor their children’s online activities without invading their privacy and online experiences.

  3. Building Trust and Open Communication:
  4. Parents need to take the first step to build trust and open communication with their children when it comes to the topic of internet safety. It is important for parents to proactively discuss the benefits and potential risks about the internet with their children. These discussions should not be in the form of solely being warnings to the children. It should be an ongoing dialogue that evolves as children grow and encounter new online experiences and challenges. Parents need to create a safe environment for their kids so that they can approach their parents for any concern that they have or advice that they seek. Encouraging an open-door policy ensures that the children can approach their parents regarding their online challenges without the fear of repercussions. This will help in building trust and open communication instead of instilling fear and helplessness in the children. This approach will help parents to provide guidance to their children in a better way.

  5. Teaching Responsible Digital Citizenship:
  6. Teaching children that online and offline are not different in codes of conduct is helpful. Parents should emphasise critical thinking, empathy, and respectful behaviour online. Children should also be taught not to share personal information online. Parents should lead by example as children learn from the actions of their parents rather than words.

  7. Leveraging Online Technology and Safety:
  8. While technology poses risks, it also provides solutions. Parents can utilise parental control software, age-appropriate filters, and monitoring tools to filter harmful aspects for their age while respecting their independence at the same time.

  9. Teaching Digital Literacy on Safety:
  10. Discuss topics like cyberbullying, online etiquette, and strategies to identify and avoid potential online threats. An ongoing communication with children is very important to keep them from harm’s way.

  11. Asking the Children to Help:
  12. Parents can ask the children to teach them about the latest apps and updates. Children, being fast learners, can be an excellent resource. This can boost the self-esteem and self-confidence in children while allowing the space for possible conversations and suggestions for the children to learn from.

Safer Internet Day serves as a reminder to the ongoing efforts for a better, more resourceful, and safer internet usage, especially among the young netizens. Empowering parents with knowledge, introducing open communication, teaching responsible digital citizenship and digital literacy on safety can go a long way in the safety of children in the online space. By working as a unit, everyone can ensure that the children navigate the online realm safely, allowing them to explore the vast potential that the internet has to offer to them.

For more information, visit EuroKids, or visit a centre nearest to you.

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