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Today is Safer Internet Day (#SID2013)

In its 10th year of observance, Safer Internet Day is a European-led effort, from InSafe, to promote greater awareness and safer use of the internet and mobile devices, especially by youth. This year’s theme is “Online Rights and Responsibilities.” It’s not as well known here in the United States as June’s Internet Safety Month or the related but slightly different Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. Sometimes it feels like the calendar is filling with days or months of celebration or awareness campaigns.  Fortunately, the combined momentum of these programs will likely improve consumer behavior over time and has the potential to teach online skills to folks outside of schools.

If you are interested to learn more about the Safer Internet Day efforts, remember that as it’s a European program much of the content is already live and many of the press conferences have already happened. In the US, Google held a Washington DC event that screened live on their YouTube channel. Fortunately you can watch the recording here and see dignitaries from several companies, government agencies and non-profits share their advice about keeping safe online. You can search for Twitter messages using the hashtag #SID2013.

In recognition of Safer Internet Day, the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)’s program, A Platform for Good, has launched a special online pledge. (Stephen Balkam (FOSI’s CEO) has a great op-ed piece here at the Huffington Post.) What appeals most to me about this pledge (and in keeping with the concept of A Platform for Good where the best of the internet is to be celebrated) is the concept of “Using Your Power for Good.” Take a moment today and every day to do something positive with your online access. Need an idea? You could share a compliment with someone online, share a cute video or promote a charitable cause on your social network. Send an email or set up a video chat with an elderly relative you don’t see often. Send your sister a favorite recipe link. Find out how to make a donation to our troops overseas via a website. Teach your children how to use privacy and security settings in their social networks. Have other ideas? Please add them below in the comments section!

There is also a number of new research studies timed for today’s events that I’d like you to learn more about. From Australia, there is a study, “Enhancing Parents’ Knowledge and Practice of Online Safety,” that focuses on the role of parents in keeping their kids safe online. I love their insight that children can teach parents so much about using technology safely and they encourage parents not to focus solely on using monitoring as a way of keeping up. A conversation about family values can help your teen remain on the right path whether engaged in offline interactions or online ones.

From the European Union, the latest EU Kids Online study, “In their own words, what bothers children online?” helps us reframe our worries about internet dangers to see the online world through the eyes of our children. They worry about violent and sexual content seen online at video sharing sites. Reasonably, the concern about this sort of content is greatest for younger children who may not feel as much in control of their internet use as an older child. For older children, likely joining social networks and engaging more with other people, their concerns focus on unkind behavior and cruel comments.

The UK’s Safer Internet Centre has a report, “Have Your Say”. They interviewed more than 24,000 young people (7-19) about their thoughts for online rights and responsibilities. In general the children report wanting to feel safe online, wanting to support their friends, liking and wanting more reporting tools, and wanting more education about online safety.

Norton’s Mobile Security website (www.mobilesecurity.com) has a special “Ten Tips for Parents for Safer Internet Day”. Be sure to check that out, too! http://www.mobilesecurity.com/articles/364-ten-tips-for-parents-on-safer-internet-day