COVID-19 – using tech in a positive way

We are hearing a lot about how technology can be misused and abused, and about how criminals are exploiting the current situation with an increase in scams and similar. It's important to remember, however, the many positive ways in which technology is connecting people, and providing hope, education and entertainment for the millions who are now forced to stay at home.

2020-03-27 BIK Team awareness
Connecting with family and friends
Not everyone is comfortable using Skype, Facetime, Zoom or Houseparty but, as online communication is the only way of making contact with those outside of our own homes, old and young are flocking to these platforms and seeing the benefits that they can bring. Stories of dinner parties taking place on Skype, people meeting up for a drink on Houseparty, and other innovative ways of being together while geographically apart are appearing on our news feeds and timelines now.
 
It's important to remember that there are some unwritten rules around these sorts of online activities – it's probably advisable to ask for a quick comfort break if a call or meeting is going on for too long rather than taking the laptop into the bathroom with you! Equally, think about what might be on the wall behind you and what others can see apart from you – you could use the background blur in Skype, for example, so that callers will just focus on you rather than anything else that might be visible.
 
Things that families can work on together
Use the technology to bring the family together. A couple of examples include:
  • Online quizzes – there are many virtual quizzes such as this virtual pub quiz that you can take part in. This particular quiz was set up by three friends from Ireland, Italy and The Netherlands who decided it would be a good way to deal with social distancing. They are also raising money to help combat the virus.
     
  • Keeping fit together – in the UK, for example, public figure Joe Wicks has live-streamed a 30-minute workout for children and their parents every day this week with over a million tuning in every day.
Look out for similar examples in your country.
 
How tech can help us combat the virus
There are many examples emerging of positive uses of technology in the midst of COVID-19. Some examples include:
  • Volunteers from some of the world's biggest tech companies have given their time and expertise to develop a website (covidnearyou.org) which aims to track the spread of the virus. The volunteers –from Apple, Google and Amazon – have worked every night for a week to design the app, along with a group of epidemiologists.
     
  • Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) has joined up with Facebook, Microsoft and other tech companies to hold a hackathon to promote the development of software that can take on challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic.
     
  • Supermarkets are one of the few places that many of us are still allowed to go to in order to get essential supplies. As such, they are potentially somewhere where we might come into closer contact with others. Schemes to help customers to stay 2 metres apart have been set up, but some supermarkets are allowing customers to use an app to scan their shopping as they put it into their bag as they move around the store and then pay using a contactless machine which limits the need to queue to pay. Again, look out for similar examples near you.

We'll be bringing you a range of articles and insights on the opportunities and challenges of being online during COVID-19 in the coming days and weeks. Keep checking the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal and follow our social channels on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

In addition, for localised help and support in responding to some of the online challenges which COVID-19 presents, please do reach out to your national Safer Internet Centre (SIC) – find profile information and contact details on the BIK portal. In addition to a range of articles and resources in national languages, European Safer Internet Centres also provide helpline services allowing children and young people, and parents and carers to access personalised advice and support.

Related news