Together for a better internet - on Safer Internet Day and beyond!

If it's the second day of the second week of the second month of the year, it means it's Safer Internet Day! Today, over 140 countries across the globe celebrate it in their own way, under the unifying slogan of "Together for a better internet", calling on all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, in particular for children and young people.

What is Safer Internet Day?

An annual, global campaign, for the past 16 years, Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations aim to raise awareness of both a safer and a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology not just safely but also responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. The campaign aims to reach out to children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians, to encourage everyone to play their part in creating a better internet. This will allow each and every user to make the most of all the opportunities new technologies have to offer, regardless of their age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender, while also steering clear of risks and challenges.

Insafe network and other stakeholders' pledge to work together for a better internet

What should you look out for?

With events taking place all over the world either just today, or during the entire week and in some cases throughout the whole month of February, it's easy to get overwhelmed! Whether you're in Sydney, New Delhi, Johannesburg, Paris, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, New York or Vancouver, there is something you can do to support Safer Internet Day! Here are just a few examples of things to be looking out for across the globe:

While most of the world will still be asleep, in Australia and New Zeeland, our SID Committees will be busy celebrating. How? In Australia, Terry the resilient turtle, Zara the reasoning Zebra, Rex the respectful dog and two responsible koalas, Karla and Karly will be teaching kids about the four Rs of being safe online: Respect, Responsibility, Reasoning, Resilience. In New Zealand for instance, the Kiwi SID Committee invites parents to have more conversations with their children about their online behaviour and encourages everyone to take a moment to check their privacy settings on all social media platforms and finally to make the most of the big day by sharing something positive online!

Australian Safer Internet Day Committee

Many Asian countries will equally join the global call to work together for a better internet. In Hong Kong, for example, our SID Committee will be aiming to bust parents' myths about the internet as a dangerous place, promoting a positive use of online platforms and technology through internet literacy education in the family, and by providing effective parenting styles for parents.

In Africa, numerous countries will be bringing their contribution to the campaign. For instance in Nigeria, the focus of SID 2019 celebrations will be on online safety as a collective responsibility. Events, presentations, videos and live discussions will take place in four Nigerian states ranging from topics such as cyberbullying, to cybercrime and safer banking. In Chad, the Safer Internet Day Committee will be organising workshops to give young people a voice and to provide them with some useful tools and techniques to navigate safety and to combat hate speech online.

Heading back north, to Europe, all 28 EU Member States will be celebrating the day in style. In Bulgaria, the emphasis will be on creating a positive online environment thanks to the "You are the Hero" campaign, encouraging youths across the country to take part in a competition and engage in peer-to-peer programmes. In Greece, a large Pan-Hellenic student contest will be launched under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Education, aiming to encourage children to express their ideas about data protection, and more generally, how they perceive safety in the digital world. In Poland, the main SID 2019 event will feature eight inspiring presentations in TedEx style, from recognised authorities in the field of internet safety on topics, such as how we can change and influence the internet or the importance of internet safety education. In Finland, Safer Internet Day is celebrated as Media Literacy Week to promote the knowledge and competences needed to act as part of the change. Activities for the Media Literacy Week are designed for various groups ranging from professional educators to the general public. In Germany, the focus topic for Safer Internet Day 2019 is hate speech, with a variety of activities and offerings around this topic for different target groups (#lauteralshass i.e. "louderthanhate"), while French SID celebrations will tackle the topic of screen time ("Screens, others, and me"), inviting young people and adults to question their consumption and life patterns with screens. In the United Kingdom, Safer Internet Day celebrations are dedicated to the topic of consent, online, while in Portugal, a main event will be organised in Madeira. It will include presentations, a rap performance and a theatre play about online identity.

Leaving the old continent behind, in the New World, in Brazil, multiple events will be taking place around the topic of digital citizenship and positive approaches to online issues such as using media literacy to fight against misinformation, online violence against women, and cyberbullying.

In North America, the Canadian SID Committee will be encouraging families to start a conversation about internet safety by highlighting Zoe & Molly Online, an interactive website where kids aged 8-10 can explore what it means to be safe, while playing games online and the risks associated with sharing their personal information and sending pictures online. In the USA, two events for students will be held in Seattle and Washington.

What about Brussels?

At EU level, in Belgium, on Safer Internet Day, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel will be visiting Child Focus, the Belgian Safer Internet Centre, together with the Belgian Minister of Digital Agenda, Philippe De Backer. On this occasion, they will be taking stock of the results of the #SaferInternet4EU campaign, acknowledging ongoing Safer Internet Centres' efforts and their strong commitment to support the campaign.

Commissioner Gabriel will then visit the European School Brussels IV in Laeken (Brussels), where she will first meet a group of pupils who will share with her how they contribute to a better internet through posters prepared with their teachers' support. Afterwards, the Commissioner will attend a Citizens' Dialogue with the wider school community, discussing students' problems and challenges in the field of online safety, media literacy and cyber hygiene, with an aim of looking into students' ideas and priorities for the future of Europe.

Beyond SID 2019

With so many events taking place simultaneously across the globe, today will fly by incredibly fast, but there is no need to worry, the online safety agenda is full for the remainder of the year.

The #SaferInternet4EU campaign continues!
Launched by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel precisely one year ago, on the occasion of Safer Internet Day 2018, the #SaferInternet4EU campaign consists of a range of initiatives aiming to reach children, young people, parents, teachers, and other EU citizens to become empowered and responsible digital users. It focuses on topics such as critical thinking, media literacy and digital skills necessary to identify and combat fake news and the risks brought by emerging online technologies and connected devices, and cyber hygiene.

Last year activities and events organized under the #SaferInternet4EU umbrella meant that over 30 million citizens improved their online safety, cyber hygiene and media literacy skills as summarised in the infographic below.

Results of the SaferInternet4EU campaign in 2018

Read more about these highlights of the campaign so far in the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) and SaferInternet4EU review of 2018, published on SID 2019.

Still ongoing, in 2019, the campaign will continue to reach out to EU citizens with various activities and events across the continent. You can find out more about #SaferInternet4EU Ambassadors' work and start planning how you'll be contributing to a better internet thanks to our forward planning available on the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal.

European Media Literacy Week

If February is dedicated to promoting safer and better internet initiatives, March will be all about media literacy skills, thanks to the European Media Literacy Week (an EU-wide initiative of the European Commission). Taking place from 18 to 22 March 2019, various events around the topic of media literacy will take place in Brussels and on a national level in all EU Member States.

Why is European Media Literacy Week crucial? In the digital age, a high level of media literacy is a key factor to enable citizens to make informed decisions. In this light, media literacy is a pre-requisite for a vibrant, modern democracy and an important topic in view of the upcoming European elections in May 2019. The goal of the European Media Literacy Week is to raise awareness on media literacy across the EU and to highlight existing initiatives at regional and national level.

The main event will be a high-level conference on 19 March 2019 hosted by the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, in which Member States representatives, audiovisual regulators, media experts, journalists and the general public will discuss the role of quality journalism in a rapidly changing news environment, issues of trust and disinformation, and changing business models. Increased media literacy skills have the capacity to enable citizens to navigate the modern news environment in a creative way, take informed decisions based on critical thinking and increase citizens' resilience to disinformation.

Finally, with all this in mind, we would like to thank all our partners for their incredible commitment to the campaign and to making the internet a better place for children and young people, not just on Safer Internet Day, but throughout the year!

To find out more about Safer Internet Day events, visit www.saferinternetday.org/country and reach out to your national Safer Internet Centre or Safer Internet Day Committee. To never miss anything SID-related don't forget to also like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter using the campaign hashtags of #SaferInternetDay and #SID2019.


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