Today marks the tenth anniversary of Safer Internet Day, with this year’s message calling upon Internet users to “connect with respect”.
The event – organised annually in February by Insafe – this year carries the theme of “online rights and responsibilities”, with a focus on promoting the responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, particularly among children and young people globally.
The day is celebrated in over 90 countries across the world. African countries are also joining in the celebrations, with this year’s Safer Internet Day being marked in Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, the Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia by Safer Internet Day Committees, schools, organisations and other supporters.
According to the UK-based branch of Safer Internet Day, a study conducted across 24,000 school children in the UK found that children can openly identify obstacles to their enjoyment of the Internet, ranging from nasty comments to concerning adverts.
While the children identified their parents as the people they would turn to in the event of Internet-based trouble, they also recognised the need for everyone to watch out for each other’s safety online.
As such, this year’s Safer Internet Day not only targets children and young people – teaching them about Internet safety and responsible use of technology – but the organisers also call on parents and other individuals to engage with the themes and collaborate to promote a safer Internet for all.
The initiative is particular relevant in an African context. With mobile and Internet uptake on the rise across the continent, children and young people should be made aware of the potential dangers of online content and be equipped to prevent and deal with any trouble they encounter online.