Today, children connect to the internet with mobile devices at an ever earlier age. Fast evolution in the field of ICT creates new challenges and opportunities.
While some years ago parents could still monitor their children’s use of the internet on the home computer, access to the internet has become ever more mobile. Children have, at their fingertips, access to an unprecedented wealth of information and a way to interact with the whole world. At the same time, a certain set of skills are needed to make the most out of the internet. Challenges such as cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate or harmful content, exposure to advertising and excessive use/time spent on the internet are real and can have enduring negative effects on the development of children.
What can we do?
In essence, keeping children safe online is the responsibility of all actors. Parents, teachers, service providers, hardware manufacturers, policy makers…
At the same time, parents are the primary educators of children and in the case of young children, parents are virtually the sole reference for establishing healthy habits and adhering to core values such as respect, be it online or offline.
Children need to learn as early as possible about their rights and responsibilities and parents are among the first to initiate this learning process.
Knowledge these two dimensions can help children put into better perspective and react better to issues such as cyberbullying, by knowing what rights they have should they be a victim and by keeping in mind the consequences should they be a perpetrator.
But all parents are not IT-savy and do not feel comfortable or capable to discuss and exchange about the online world with their children. To that end, COFACE has set up a resources page on its website to help reference and share good practices and resources that can help parents in their essential parenting role.
For more information, please have a look at our resources page.
SAFER INTERNET DAY | 10 February 2015
Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by Insafe in February of each year to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people across the world. Safer Internet Day 2015 will be celebrated tomorrow, with the strapline of “Let’s create a better internet together” following the success of last year’s campaign.
We can all contribute to foster positive and eliminate negative content and behavior online in many ways, regardless of who we are.The Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE), and the partners of the #DeleteCyberbullying, project, funded by the European Programme Daphne III, aim at raising awareness about the issue of cyberbullying and what can be done to prevent and address it. To this end, a number of tools have been developed and are freely available online. An awareness raising video is available on YouTube in 12 different languages, a Teacher’s Manual and a free interactive app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store (*)
The #DeleteCyberbullying app aims at answering questions teens, parents and teachers may have about this phenomenon through an interactive quiz to test their knowledge. It also enables teenagers to take a self-diagnosis quiz, which redirects victims to the designated help phone-lines, where they can directly contact professionals for specific advice in their own country and language.
The app is available in Belgium, France, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden, in the native languages of these countries.
Install the #DeleteCyberbullying App
(*) The app is currently available for Android and will be available soon for iOS.
The Big March 2014 / Over 100,000 Europeans are supporting our virtual protest against bullying and cyberbullying
To see the Big March live go to our website now (until 5.00 pm CET): www.coface-eu.org
More than half (55%) of children in Europe who have been bullied said they became depressed as a result, with over a third saying they harmed themselves (35%) or thought about suicide (38%), according to a new poll* conducted by BeatBullying and the #DeleteCyberbullying campaign.
The poll of more than 2,000 adults and children from across Europe found that worryingly, 34% of adults thought that bullying is regarded as a ‘normal part of growing up’, and one in six adults (16%) said it is regarded as ‘character building’ by most people in their country, raising concerns amongst campaigners that the pain caused by bullying still remains hidden to many European citizens.
To raise awareness of this issue and show their support for the millions of children affected, today, young people, parents, schools, and other organisations are joining The Big March 2014 to deliver a virtual petition to the European Commission, calling for new laws and much-needed funding to protect children from bullying and cyberbullying.
A new study has confirmed this trend.
With a greater access to the internet, children have much greater opportunities to learn and develop their digital skills as well as other skills via e-learning, participation via social media and other communication channels, creativity and innovation by creating content such as videos, pictures, or even apps!
At the same time, there are lots of risks associated with this increase in use of mobile devices. Among the most common risks identified in the report we find:
– Exposure to negative user generated content, 31% of 11 to 16 year-olds (such as posts, comments, pictures or videos on social networks such as facebook or online sharing platforms such as youtube);
– Communicating online with someone the child has not met face to face before, 30% of 11 to 16 year-olds;
– Seeing sexual images off- and online, 29% of 11 to 16 year-olds;
– 27% of children aged 9-16 report being bullied on- or offline. The number of children who reported any form of cyberbullying on the internet or through mobile phones is 14%.
For parents, this poses digital parenting challenges such as learning to get familiar with new operating systems (such as iOS, Android and Windows Phone), new features (NFC, GPS), along with understanding the implications of being constantly connected with the ability to share and access content world wide 24/7.
Industry also has a role to play, making sure that parents have access to the right tools and features to support their children (some mobile operating systems still have poor parental control tool integration) but also designing their products to be more “child friendly”.
Other crosscutting issues raised with these developments are:
– Ensuring that children and teenagers have a balanced lifestyle with enough time devoted to sports, studying, social relationships;
– Exposure of children and teenagers to more advertising or commercial messages in general, detrimental to the development of their critical thinking skills and shaping their “consumer habits” early.
We have been following these developments closely and will continue to represent the interests of families in the digital world.