Safer Internet Day: Protect Yourself Online

Safer Internet Day is a landmark event on the world’s online safety calendar held every Tuesday of the second week of February. This occasion promotes responsible and safe online technology and mobile phone usage. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: February - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of Safer Internet Day

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Safer Internet Day started in 2004 as a part of the European Union SafeBorders project—the initiative aimed to promote a safer digital landscape for all users. The first celebration occurred on February 10, 2004. 

Since then, every Tuesday of the second week of February has been observed globally, with the Safer Internet Day slogan: Together for a Better Internet.

Insafe, a network of European Awareness Centres, promoted responsible internet and mobile device usage and laid the foundation for Safer Internet Day. Today, Safer Internet Day takes place in nearly 170 countries worldwide.

In 2009, the United Nations acknowledged Safer Internet Day, officially making it a globally recognized event. This recognition has significantly boosted the initiative’s impact.

ConnectSafely.org, a nonprofit organization based in Silicon Valley, coordinated Safer Internet Day in the United States with support from the European Commission in 2012. 

The Cause and Its Challenges

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While technology has opened doors to countless opportunities, it also poses a myriad of risks, including cyberbullying, online harassment, identity theft, and the spread of harmful content. 

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 28% of US teens have experienced cyberbullying in 20222. Additionally, nearly 79% of US adults are concerned about how companies handle their data.

The digital divide has also created a gap between those with internet access and those without, while misinformation and fake news erode trust in online platforms. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer report shows that 76% worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.

For many children, the Internet has become their new playground. But with that comes a hefty dose of vulnerability. According to UNICEF, one in three internet users is a child1, which makes safe internet a top priority for everyone.

Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness, teach media literacy, and encourage positive online behavior.

Efforts and Initiatives

Since 2007, the United Nations' Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) has fostered international cooperation on internet safety issues. From shaping policies to building capacity, the GCA helps create a secure online world.

Likewise, the European Union has organized a Better Internet for Kids campaign, whose mission is to create a safe online playground for children and young people. This campaign offers various resources to help you guide the younger generation through the digital landscape. Moreover, the Safer Internet Centres across Europe strive to protect and empower children on the Internet.

Meanwhile, with the creation of the eSafety Commissioner, the Australian government and policymakers have risen to the challenge of curbing cybersecurity threats. This office is a complaints service for young Australians, offering a veritable toolbox of resources to help all internet users.

How to Get Involved and Support Safer Internet Day

sharing information on the internet
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.
  • Encourage online respect by treating others kindly and expecting the same in return. 
  • Regularly conduct a privacy settings check to ensure you control what information you share. 
  • Be mindful about the content you share, not everything needs to be online.
  • Stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and how to protect against them. 
  • Teach others, particularly the younger generation, about responsible online behavior.
  • Use complex and varying passwords to fortify your online accounts against hackers. 
  • Advocate for safer internet policies within your community and beyond. Public discussions can create meaningful changes.
  • Volunteer for organizations that apply a community-led approach towards a safer online environment.

Conclusion

Safer Internet Day encourages us to band together to tackle these threats to our internet browsing. Each of us has a role to play in making the internet safer. 

Get involved in your local community's online safety initiatives. Share what you know about staying safe online. Help shape the digital world into a place where everyone, from your little brother to your grandma, can surf without fear.

Unlock the internet’s potential by making it an empowering and respectful place. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Safer Internet Day?

This annual event promotes a safer and more responsible use of digital technologies and raises awareness about online safety issues.

2. Who organizes it?

It occurs through the collaboration of the Insafe/INHOPE network with the European Commission. People from over 170 countries actively participate in this occasion.

3. Why is it important?

It highlights the need for online safety education. It encourages individuals, organizations, and governments to use technology responsibly and create a safer online environment for everyone, especially children and young people.

4. What are some common online safety challenges?

People online face cyberbullying, online harassment, privacy concerns, identity theft, phishing scams, and exposure to inappropriate content.

5. How can I get involved and raise awareness?

You can promote the cause on social media, organize online safety workshops or events in your community, support organizations that work towards online safety, and educate yourself and others about responsible online behavior.

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1

Livingstone, S., Carr, J. and Byrne, J. (2016). One in Three: Internet Governance and Children’s Rights. Innocenti Discussion Paper No.2016-01, UNICEF Office of Research, Florence.

2

Atske, S. (2022, December 15). Teens and Cyberbullying 2022 | Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech.

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