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.

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

Positive content and family entertainment while in lockdown

Through Better Internet for Kids (BIK), and the European Network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs), our aim is to empower children and young people to remain safe online, and equally assist those that support them. During the time of the coronavirus pandemic, Safer Internet Centres have published a number of articles and resources to make our stay at home easier.

Staying safe online while social distancing – Top tips from the BIK Youth Ambassadors

  • Youth
  • 27/04/2020
  • BIK Team

The global lockdown induced by the coronavirus pandemic has caused fundamental changes to the lifestyles of young people around the world. One of these consequences is their increased reliance on digital technologies – to maintain a social life, to study, to access culture, to express their creativity, and more. The BIK Youth Ambassadors share their tips to cope with this new reality in the best way possible.

European Commission takes measures to fight disinformation around COVID-19

Misinformation on matters of public health is not a new phenomenon, but it has seen a sudden rise since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Disinformation and fake news are rife, with some claiming that the coronavirus is a biological weapon created for various purposes, that zinc kills the virus, or that Big Pharma is exaggerating the importance of the pandemic to boost sales.

Industry stakeholders are working together to fight COVID-19 misinformation

As the World Health Organization (WHO) has described it, "the COVID-19 outbreak and response has been accompanied by a massive ‘infodemic' – an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it."

COVID-19 – How to deal with scaremongering and disinformation

  • Awareness
  • 30/03/2020
  • German Safer Internet Centre

Is Ibuprofen a potential risk for COVID-19 patients? Will grocery stores shut down? Will the internet be able to keep on functioning? Rumours linked to the newly discovered coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 are spreading faster than the virus itself. The German Awareness Centre klicksafe offers some useful tips to find your way through the chaos.

Staying alert to scams during COVID-19

Unfortunately there are always those who will seek to profit from situations like the COVID-19 pandemic that we are all struggling to cope with at the moment. Many reports are suggesting that there has been an increase in spam, scams, misinformation and fake news as a result of what is happening globally.

March edition of the BIK bulletin: Staying safe online during the coronavirus pandemic

We are in unprecedented times. As schools close and people are confined to their homes due to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are using the internet and online services more now than perhaps ever before. Being online is providing a lifeline for everyone in society from the young to the old, learners and workers, and the vulnerable, curious and those seeking an escape from boredom. This is probably, therefore, a good time to remind ourselves of a few key points to keep safe online.