Safer Internet Day 2021 – Creating a better internet is a multi-stakeholder effort

On Tuesday, 9 February 2021, millions of supporters will once again celebrate Safer Internet Day. With the big day nearly upon us, now is the perfect time to take a closer look at the true strength of Safer Internet Day – a vibrant and diverse support base, hailing from no less than 170 countries around the globe.

2021-02-03 Safer Internet Day Team sid

With a slogan of “Together for a better internet” and a global, community-led approach, Safer Internet Day encourages everyone to join the movement and make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together, all the more during these challenging times.

Children and young people

Children and young people have the power to make the digital environment they grow up in better by being the change they want to see in it, improving their online habits so as to become kind and respectful digital citizens, curating their online reputations and respecting those of others, and seeking out positive opportunities to create, engage and share online. 

There are a wealth of opportunities for young people to make their voices heard on the online issues that matter to them, from contacting their national Safer Internet Centre or Safer Internet Day Committee and getting involved in their youth participation scheme, to becoming a Safer Internet Day advocate on social media, sharing their experiences of the digital environment and their aspirations for a better internet – take a look at our social media plans for inspiration.

One example of such youth participation scheme is the Youth Pledge for a Better Internet, a youth-led initiative launched on Safer Internet Day 2020 which, in partnership with representatives from the tech industry, strives to make terms and conditions more age appropriate and accessible. 

Parents and carers

Parents and carers play a crucial role in empowering and supporting their children to use digital technologies responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. They can do so by making sure to establish an open and constructive dialogue with their children regarding any issues they might come across online. 

Parents and carers can also educate their children on how to make the most of the opportunities the digital environment has to offer, while avoiding potential risks that inevitably exist. To do so, why not have a look at the resource galleries on the Safer Internet Day website and the Better Internet for Kids portal, which feature a range of resources to use with children, from information sheets on various online opportunities and risks to conversation starters and even games, which are available in a variety of languages and for a variety of age groups.

More generally, parents and carers also exert an influence on their children’s online habits by setting positive example as digital role models, and get in touch with their local Safer Internet Centre or Safer Internet Day Committee for more specific actions and resources.

Teachers, educators and social workers

Teachers, educators and social workers can help create a better internet for children and young people by equipping their pupils early on in life with the basic digital skills they need to better navigate the online world – skills pertaining to digital and media literacy, online safety, cybersecurity, and critical thinking. Such competences can be acquired in the classroom, by empowering pupils to create their own content and make considered choices online. Teachers, educators and social workers can make the most of the pedagogical resources available on the Safer Internet Day website and the Better Internet for Kids portal, from assembly and lesson plans to printable or online games to use in various classroom settings.

Teachers and educators can also get involved in Safer Internet Day by raising awareness of the campaign within the school community, to plan whole-school actions and provide a real focus with a day, week, or even month of activities revolving around safer and better internet issues. If the school has a social media account, they can also support Safer Internet Day by posting about planned actions, and making use of the SID social media plans to show their support.

Teachers, educators and social workers may also wish to make contact with their local Safer Internet Centre or Safer Internet Day Committee to find out about specific actions or resources in their country.

Organisations and industry

The tech industry is in a direct position to shape the online platforms, apps and services which all users interact with on a daily basis and are therefore well placed to make a better and safer internet a concrete reality. To achieve this, industry members can create and promote positive content on their platforms, making use in particular of the best practice guide on positive online content published by Better Internet for Kids on Safer Internet Day 2020. 

It is also important that industry members provide safe services online, and there is no better time than Safer Internet Day to review and improve safety features on their platforms, including the presence of clear safety advice, easy-to-use and accessible safety tools and quick access to support and report mechanisms if things go wrong.

We also encourage industry representatives to express their support for Safer Internet Day by posting about their actions on social media and by sharing our posts. You can find suggested posts and template text in the SID social media plans.

Policy makers

Decision makers and politicians can promote a safer and better internet by putting in place the conditions for the emergence of a culture in which all of the above can function and thrive. This can be achieved by reaffirming the need to provide opportunities in the national curriculum for children and young people to learn about online safety, digital and media literacy, by ensuring that parents and carers have access to appropriate information and sources of support, and that industry is encouraged to self-regulate its content and services. 

Policy makers should also take the lead in governance and legislation to ultimately ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people through effective child protection strategies for the digital world.

Safer Internet Day is next week, on Tuesday, 9 February 2021. If you are looking for ways to get involved in the global rally for a better internet, visit www.saferinternetday.org/join, support SID on Twitter and Facebook, add a Twibbon to your profile pictures, and spread the word on social media using #SaferInternetDay and #SID2021.

* 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 European Commission's website.

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