The Internet Watch Foundation found over 50,000 links in 2016 that contained child sexual abuse material. Another report found that 1 in 3 children have experienced cyber-bullying. In 2016 alone, reports filed against sextortion increased 150 percent over the previous year. Unfortunately, these aren't just some plain statistics or figures but a representation of the reality of the internet as we know it.
For parents especially, such statistics are the bearers of the ugly truth - the internet is no longer safe for their younglings. To turn the table and make the internet a safer place, causes like Safer Internet Day need to be promoted.
The Agenda behind Safer Internet Day
Safer Internet Day, aka SID, is celebrated in February every year. The event aims to spread awareness on different themes that usually involve how users, especially younger folks, should use the internet and what practices they should exercise to avoid online threats, to name a few.
This year, Safer Internet Day is going to be celebrated on the 6th of February, 2018, with the theme: Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you.
The cause was started as an initiative by EU SafeBorders and was later succeeded and expanded by the Insafe community, which is a European group of Safer Internet Centers (SICs). Initially, the event was celebrated in the EU region, but later it outgrew to other regions across the globe. Over 1,000 organizations take part in the event, deeming it their responsibility to promote the awareness of internet threats and safety measures.
Where Is the Event Celebrated?
In Ireland last year, over 70,000 people took part in the event and celebrated the cause. However, the event isn’t limited to Ireland alone and is celebrated in over 130 countries worldwide.
Users can check out the countries listed on the Safer Internet Day website, look for their respective countries and see what activities their region has planned for the event. In fact, users can even locate their country on an interactive map provided on the website.
How Can Users Participate in Safer Internet Day?
You don’t need to be a cybersecurity guru or do anything fancy to participate in the event. You can contribute to the cause by sharing insights into online safety or creating materials on digital literacy and safety and then sharing the materials on your social networks.
Be sure to use the hashtags #SID2018 and #SaferInternetDay when sharing so your posts are tied to the event. Users can also create videos and promote their content on channels like YouTube, etc. It is important to spread the word to every channel and every corner of the internet.
Here are some examples of messages users have already shared in advance of this year’s Safer Internet Day:
YOU HAVE THE POWER is a short cyber safety film I created for our students at @berwicklodgeps - for #SaferInternetDay2018. To view the short film, please click on the link and leave a message on my LWDT blog. Please like and RT. ?? https://t.co/MkIPVN8vuz #SID2018 pic.twitter.com/Tut3t6ajTX— Rob Kelly (B.Ed) (@robkellytweets) February 5, 2018
I SUPPORT #SaferInternetDay. I will be doing something positive online this Safer Internet Day, what are you doing to celebrate? #ItStartsWithUs #SID2018— Kate Smith (@topspyphones) February 2, 2018
Started #SaferInternetDay celebrations early this morning speaking to a secondary school about tracking technologies and informed consent. ????????— Kate Green (@KateGreen28) February 5, 2018
How Are Organizations Playing Their Part?
More than a thousand organizations from a wide range of industries like education, healthcare, and tech participate in the event every year.
In fact, there is a complete list of SID supporters on its official website. Every organization is taking a unique approach to voice their concerns or expertise on the matter and help spread the word.
Take, for instance, the British Council. The world-renowned organization is taking part in the event by sharing their educational material with their global network of teachers. As a result, the message would be spread to a high volume of younger audience.
Likewise, tech companies are also contributing to the event by sharing internet safety tips with their social media followers and consumers. Here are a few examples:
Towards the end of next week, you will ALL have the opportunity to win one of these brand new and exclusive trophies. Just answer all Nina’s questions correctly in Friday’s game! #SID2018 pic.twitter.com/c52ZQoEqDj— Habbo (@Habbo) February 3, 2018
PureVPN will secure 100 families by giving away free VPN accounts this Safer Internet Day!— PureVPN (@purevpn) February 2, 2018
????????Here is how you can participate or visit this link ???? https://t.co/gMrfSNjhf4#SaferInternetDay #SID2018 #PureVPN pic.twitter.com/Z1w5M9zd38
‘It’s important to take a minute, switch devices off and talk to a grown up’ – Free Safer Internet Day films for use with 3-7 year olds #SID2018 https://t.co/SAeFwJMS5y pic.twitter.com/MyQMH120oo— UK Safer Internet (@UK_SIC) January 25, 2018
Who better to talk to about keeping safe online and @UK_SIC @safeinternetday than PC Craig, somebody who tries to keep us all safe everyday. We had a wonderful @SkypeClassroom session with PC Craig, very helpful and informative. ???? #SID2018 pic.twitter.com/OfNRjJZ7I6— Water Primary (@Waterprimary) February 2, 2018
#ItStartsWithUs this Safer Internet Day – top tips for getting involved on social media. https://t.co/Y8a8RdI85n pic.twitter.com/Y1OTRwn3AE— Childnet (@childnet) February 2, 2018
While we should all be working toward a safer and better internet every day, initiatives like Safer Internet Day are a great “signal boost” and reminder to share your knowledge. What might seem like a basic tip to you, might be news to someone else.
The internet is home to billions of people across the globe. Amongst those billions of users, unfortunately, there are those who have fallen victim to scams, phishing, social engineering, sextortion, and cyber-bullying, to name a few. The more information and advice that can be shared, from both users and organizations alike, to help raise awareness and protect against these types of attacks, the better.
What’s your best internet safety tip? Let us know below and don’t forget to share with #SID2018 and #SaferInternetDay!