To mark Safer Internet Day today, when more than 100 countries are promoting the idea of a safer internet for everyone, a whole host of events will be taking place today online and around Ireland.
Started in 1999 under the European Commission’s Safer Internet Programme, the awareness strategy has developed into a worldwide event where groups, organisations and individuals come together to make sure that everyone, large and small, know the wonders and dangers that lie on the internet.
Recent figures show that 40pc of nine to 15-year-olds now own a smartphone, which in turn can leave them open to more online risks, such as cyberbullying.
With this in mind, a number of initiatives have been launched.
Respectful Online Communication
An Garda Síochána, in partnership with Webwise.ie, will be visiting a number of 5th class students in schools across the country to change their attitudes toward cyberbullying and meeting with strangers whom they have spoken to online.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan said An Garda Síochána doesn’t intend to simply visit on Safer Internet Day, but throughout other points in the year.
“The lesson is formulated for delivery in a classroom setting as opposed to a large assembly setting, and can be used by our members throughout the school year rather than solely focusing on a limited time period surrounding Safer Internet Day."
BeLonG To, an organisation for young LGBT people in Ireland, has launched a video today aimed at tackling the mindset of homophobic and transphobic cyberbullying that is common on social media sites, forums and news site comment sections.
Meanwhile, Facebook has launched its Family Safety Center webpage that offers online support, advice and help to anyone who feels they are suffering from cyberbullying or would like to know more on how to support someone who might be affected by the issue.
It also answers parents’ questions regarding the social network’s privacy policies and explains elements of the site and how it works if they would not necessarily be familiar with it.
Thomas Mernagh (Thurles), Emmet Farrell (Drimnagh Castle), Adam O’Dwyer (Thurles) and Lia Grogan (Thurles) showcasing their work at the launch event for Safer Internet Day 2014.
Also, for Safer Internet Day, Walk in My Shoes, a mental health awareness and fundraising campaign of St Patrick’s Mental Health Foundation, will promote and share its free downloadable cyberbullying guides for parents, teachers and students throughout Ireland.
‘Be a Cyber Pal!’ is a new initiative of the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre, as part of its participation in Safer Internet Day.
As part of the awareness of being a ‘Cyber Pal’, the centre advises people to give the other person the benefit of the doubt in some cases, as what might appear to be abuse may be taken the wrong way without the physical indicator of a facial expression.
For the last three years, Trend Micro has run its ‘What’s Your Story?’ competition where it asks children across Ireland ages 8 and over to make a two-minute film or poster promoting safer internet use and how they would see themselves and others being more secure.
The winner of the competition receives €1,500 for themselves and €3,000 for their school to fund other similar projects.
Last year’s winners, Judith and Tessy, of St Joseph’s College, Lucan, used their video to make a song about all the good things that the internet can do for us.
For more information about Safer Internet Day and any other events happening as part of the day, visit Ireland’s microsite.