Safer Internet Day

·2 min read

Many activities have moved online during the last year to meet the unique challenge of staying connected during the ongoing pandemic while varying levels of public health orders/restrictions have called for us to stay at home and limit face-to-face interactions wherever possible. Whether it is staying in touch with family and friends, conducting business and/or working from home, online schooling, gaming with friends, or shopping, participating in these activities online has become our “new normal.” Many of us are spending much more time online as we navigate today’s unprecedented realities. In many cases, the technologies that allow these activities have been somewhat of a blessing, but there have certainly been some negative consequences. Some of the drawbacks have been; new opportunities for fraudsters and identity thieves; increased potential for our children to be exposed online to risks (inappropriate content, cyberbullying, online luring, exploitation, etc.); and the damage to our society from misinformation and conspiracy theories (which have escalated dramatically during this time).

With so many people from all ages and walks of life taking to the online world for an increasing number of activities, Safer Internet Day (SID) is even more important this year than in the previous 14 years of its existence. Held on the second Tuesday of the second month of the year, SID is on February 9th this year.

The European Union (EU) SafeBorders project started SID as an initiative in 2004, which was taken up by the Insafe network (a European network of Safer Internet Centres) in 2005. The Safer Internet Centres in the Insafe network run awareness and education campaigns, helplines, and work with youth, all with the goal of creating a better internet.

The idea of creating Safer Internet Day Committees in other countries was brought forward in 2009. Today there are over 100 global SID Committees, with additional organizations working toward gaining SID Committee status.

The slogan for this year’s SID is “Together for a better internet” and calls for all partners to come together to make the internet a safer and better place for everyone, especially for our children and youth. In Canada, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is presenting a collection of videos aimed at youth to address sextortion; what it is, how it happens, and how they can get help. Sextortion is the practice of coercing someone to provide sexually explicit images (or videos) and then threatening to send those materials to others if the exploited person does not pay or provide more sexually explicit material. C3P is also providing information for families and educators on how to prevent sextortion and help protect youth from being victimized. C3P has many additional resources for keeping kids safe online on their website.

Please visit the websites for Safer Internet Day (saferinternetday.org), the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (protectchildren.ca), and cybertip.ca for more information.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette