Google South Africa today joined forces with its Online Child Safety Campaign partners to recognise the eleventh anniversary of the Safer Internet Day (SID) movement, which promotes the safe and responsible use of online technologies among young users.
Hosted in collaboration with the Film and Publications Board and supported by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund; Mxit; Parent’s Corner; Media Monitoring Africa; Childline SA; Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities; the Gauteng Department of Education; Department of Communications; and UNICEF South Africa, Google facilitated a series of Internet safety workshops for learners, parents and teachers from five Johannesburg schools. The event was hosted at Jules High School, east of Johannesburg. These sessions aimed to equip learners and parents with tools and knowledge to help them to use the Internet safely and responsibly, as well as to educate them on their role in making the Internet a better and safer place for all.
In support of the initiative, the MEC for Education at the Gauteng Department of Education, MEC Barbara Creecy, said “The Internet has transformed how children and young people communicate and socialise. It provides a wide range of opportunities for young people, in terms of communicating, entertainment, information and creating content. However, like any medium for communication and interaction, it also has some inherent risks. We are happy to see that private sector has joined hands with government in order to ensure that our children enjoy the benefits offered by the Internet, while minimising the risks. Today, children will learn that each one of them has a role to play in making the Internet a safer and better place for all.”
The other schools involved included: Anchor Comprehensive, Vuwani, Diepdale secondary, Emshukantambo Secondary Schools.
Workshops at the event focused on four different topics: ‘How has the Internet made things better?’; ‘Ideas, apps and creating’; ‘the Responsible user’s guide to social media’ and a debate around the “advantages and disadvantages of anonymity online”. The workshops also featured a ‘Silver Surfers’ corner, which educated teachers and adults on how they can contribute to making the Internet a safer place for their children.
“At Google, we often speak about how the Internet has changed the world, especially when it come to the unprecedented level of access to information offered by the web. However, such changes affect each generation differently. For children, this is especially important – the Internet can aid with their school work, help them connect with friends, and offer a creative outlet. At the same time, there are tools that families should be aware of, so that children can explore the Internet safely. We will continue to hold trainings like these because we are deeply committed to protecting children online and providing all of our users with a safe experience;” says Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, Public Policy Manager at Google SA.
Google started its Online Child Safety campaign with the launch of the Family Safety Centre website in 2012, comprising online safety tips and tools from parents at Google. Advice includes how to use the internet properly, keep all online access in a public space and utilise child-safe software that prohibits your family from entering certain sites, or viewing inappropriate content. The site is available in English, Zulu and Afrikaans, and was recently relaunched as part of SID 2014. Google‘s SafeSearch blocks pornographic and explicit content from search results, and the company continuously works with coalitions of law enforcement and technology companies to develop new solutions aimed at eradicating child pornography on the Internet.
Over the last decade, SID has grown rapidly, now spreading to over 90 countries worldwide, including South Africa. The theme for this year’s SID is ‘Let’s create a better internet together’ – to find out more visit: http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest/home. This year’s SID is being celebrated at the same time as the Film and Publications Board’s Back-2-School Campaign. Back-2-School is the FPB’s flagship month long programme for school activations aimed at creating awareness on cyber-safety. More information on the campaign is available at: http://www.fpb.org.za/.