Safer Internet Day, https://www.saferinternetday.org/, is a global, community-led approach encouraging children and young people, parents, teachers, educators and social workers, as well as industry, decision makers and politicians to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.
Given that people from every walk of life and culture from around the world can connect and communicate in ways they never could before, this year’s theme “Together for a better internet” is a call to action for every stakeholder to join in a national conversation about online safety.
The world’s biggest campaign to make the internet a safer and happier place, Safer Internet Day gained official recognition in the U.S. in 2012, with an agreement between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Commission to join efforts in building a better internet for youth. Since then, it’s grown to 140 countries around the world.
ConnectSafely was officially appointed to coordinate the efforts in the U.S. in 2013 and they’ve been driving it forward a little more every year. Each year, ConnectSafely observes Safer Internet Day in February with two events – a daytime event for high school students and 8th-graders and an evening family event for all ages. The event moves around the country, but this year, the daytime event on February 11th is at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View with the evening event at the TikTok facility in downtown Mountain View.
Like the internet itself, Safer Internet Day has evolved over the years shifting away from content and conduct topics to broader themes like wellness and authenticity. By helping young people develop strategies to use the internet wisely by building up resilience and honing the tools ConnectSafely hopes to harness the great power of the internet as a force for community and positive change and shape the internet of today and tomorrow.
By celebrating the positive power of the internet, the Safer Internet Day slogan encourages everyone to join the movement, to participate, and to make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together. With the amount of new content generated every day, awareness of the ever-changing landscape of the Internet should be a top priority for adults and children.
You can observe the day by ensuring your software is up to date, that you have to latest antivirus and malware software installed, that you use parental locks and that you use secure passwords. Content filters blocking access to age-inappropriate or other objectionable content, usage controls placing time limits, computer-usage management restricting or enforcing the use of software and monitoring and tracking locations and device activity are ways to double down on your parental control.
Involve your kids in the process. Talk them through the programs you’re installing and select your privacy settings together, discussing why you are doing it and the kinds of threats you’re protecting the family against.
As part of this conversation, talk about what your kids are doing online, who they’re talking to, and what kinds of things they need to be careful about. By having this discussion, you’re giving your kids a feeling of control and responsibility over their online activities which—when paired with the rules and software we all need to protect ourselves—should produce better results when it comes to their internet education.
The internet is such an integral part of our lives that the earlier you start involving kids and teaching them about their online space, the better. By having early, honest and open communication between all stakeholders of the internet - young people, parents, educators, government officials, industry representatives, content creators – we can work together to create a better internet.