Belgian Safer Internet Centre
About the organisation
Betternet is the Belgian Safer Internet Centre (SIC). Through media literacy initiatives for professionals, a helpline and a hotline, we work together for a better internet for all children in Belgium. Betternet is represented by Child Focus, Conseil Supérieur de l’éducation aux Médias, Média Animation and Mediawijs.Profile last updated: March 2023
Betternet provides awareness-raising activities through the work of Child Focus, Média Animation, Mediawijs and the Conseil Supérieur de l’éducation aux medias.
Partners offer children, parents, teachers and other professionals, advice and tips on how to mitigate and address online challenges and/or risks, while exploiting the internet to its fullest potential.
By developing pedagogical material for formal and non-formal educational settings, and organising and delivering training for professionals, educators, social workers and parents in both French and Dutch, we aim to build resilience for all children in the digital environment.
Prevention and awareness-raising activities are designed for all age groups, taking into account all children in Belgium, including those in vulnerable situations.
Since 2011, Child Focus has run the 116 000 e-safety helpline to offer children, young people, parents and the general public advice on how to deal with harmful contacts, conduct and content. The helpline is free and available 24/7 to support children and their carers on e-safety-related issues (sexting, sextortion, grooming, and so on).
To aid the accessibility of the helpline to all children and the public, the services of the Child Focus Helpline are also available via the website, by phone, SMS and by email.
In 2002, Child Focus created the first civil hotline in Belgium to fight against child abuse images on the internet. In 2022, a new update of the hotline was launched under the name of 'stop images d’abus'. The hotline works closely with specialised law enforcement agencies and, thanks to this collaboration, Child Focus is a privileged partner of the Belgian police.
The hotline is well known among the general public and is highly consulted. Through an online form, anyone can anonymously report any inappropriate content related to child sexual exploitation material found online.
The hotline organises awareness-raising campaigns in order to improve its visibility and can be reached via the website, by phone and by email.
To achieve the goal of our Safer Internet Centre and make the internet a better place for all children in Belgium, we believe that it is crucial to work in close collaboration with children and youth. Therefore, they are constantly consulted on the activities we conduct, and are actively involved to contribute to the design of awareness-raising actions, tools and material.
Children and youth are involved in our activities in different ways:
- Focus groups: to gather their experiences on specific trends, and understand what are their needs concerning digital media usage.
- Co-design of pedagogical material: for the development of some pedagogical tools, we organise ad-hoc consultations with groups of children and teenagers to contribute to the design and development of the tool.
- Testing of pedagogical material in schools, classes, youth centres, and so on.
- Surveys for research, or to gather large-scale information about digital practices and media habits.
Consultation with youth takes place always in both Dutch and French.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 2015, the four organisations representing Betternet have worked together to improve the level of media literacy in Belgium, focusing on protecting and empowering children in the digital environment.
In order to better understand the challenges children face online, and to be familiar with their digital media usage, Betternet partners rely on data from the helpline, hotline and research.
More than 5,000 children participated in the Apestaartjaren and Génération2020 research projects, which provide information about the media usage of children and teenagers in Belgium. These research studies contain the fundamentals to address e-safety and media literacy for children in Belgium, and to develop pedagogical tools and training that tackle these main online challenges.
Inspiring professionals who work with children, and provide them with the resource, knowledge and hands-on tools to address media literacy topics, is one of our main goals at the Belgian Safer Internet Centre (SIC). In 2021, we trained more than 2,500 professionals in Belgium, including teachers, educators, and social workers.
As a Safer Internet Centre, we want to be accessible and available for all children, leaving no one behind. That is why Child Focus developed Star+, a pedagogical online tool to promote the safe and aware use of digital media for children with intellectual disabilities.
The Belgian Safer Internet Centre (SIC) has many supporters, including schools, and organisations working with youth, parents and professionals. At government level, we are working closely with the following actors:
- The Ministry of Education (in charge of the media literacy programme)
- The Flemish Ministry of Media and Youth
- The Walloon Ministry of Childhood
- The Ministry of the Digital Agenda
- The Ministry of Interior Affairs (the Belgian Cyber Security Centre)
- The Ministry of Economics
- The Ministry of Justice
All relevant NGOs and knowledge centres are members of our Advisory Group or Consortium.
The most important and popular online platforms among youngsters in Belgium, private partners in the telecommunication sector, mobile providers and ISPA are members of our Industry Involvement Working Group.