To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Safer Internet Day (SID), Google SA joined forces with its online child safety campaign partners and hosted online safety workshops for Johannesburg learners and parents to ‘connect with respect’.
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; Film and Publications Board; Department of Communications; and UNICEF South Africa, the series of SID workshops were held for learners, parents and teachers at Dainfern College. These sessions aimed to equip learners and parents with the right tools and knowledge to prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content online, and help them to browse the internet safely and responsibly.
Workshops at the event focused on four different topics: ‘Ranking your rights and responsibilities’; ‘Getting to know the online laws’; ‘the Responsible user’s guide to social media’ and ‘Where do you stand regarding responsible internet usage’. The workshops also featured an online quiz, as well as a debate contest.
“Children are our primary consideration, especially as their exploration of the wide-open world of cyberspace increases; particularly on mobile phones. We are committed to supporting the role of the ICT private sector in protecting youth who have an online presence – we want to see South African children develop into the innovative, creative and critical thinkers of the future. By collaborating with Google on this initiative, we are sure that our intervention will go a long way in the creation of a community of ‘techno-savvy’ citizens who have the knowledge and power to uphold good values and morals online,” comments Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, deputy minister at the Department of Communications.
“With over 8.5 million South Africans currently online (World Wide Worx, 2012) internet safety is a top priority. We launched an Online Child Safety campaign last year, and today are pleased to be including SID in our efforts,” says Google SA country manager, Luke Mckend. “We are partnering once again with a number of government and child protection organisations, jointly promoting the safe use of online space, and protecting children on the internet.”
Online advice on child protection
Google started its Online Child Safety campaign with the launch of the Family Safety Centre website last year, 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. 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 ‘Online rights and responsibilities’ and the slogan is ‘Connect with respect!’ For more, go to www.safeinternetday.org.